Steelers camp small, but good feeling

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September 6, 2016 9:21 AM

FIRST CAMP The Lloydminster PWM Steelers held its main camp and had 22 players come out looking for a spot on the roster. Second tryouts will happen over the next month as the roster needs to be finalized on Oct. 1.

Only 22 players came out for the Lloydminster PWM Steelers midget AAA main camp, considerably lower than Calgary’s 100 attendees.
But to Eric Morrissette, the Steelers head coach, it was a good 22 players at camp and more importantly, 22 players who wanted to be in Lloydminster.
Heading into the first season of the new model for female hockey in Alberta, it was expected it would take some time to build a program and the Steelers camp wouldn’t have the same numbers as the larger city centres in the province. And even if the first camp in Lloydminster was less than a quarter of what other teams got, Morrissette is confident that the Steelers program can be a dominate program in a short period of time.
“It’s a process, it’s exposure, the newness, I think it is going to change a lot in the next year,” said Morrissette. “This will be a premier program within the next two years.”
Six players came from outside Lloydminster to try out for the Steelers at the first camp, so the Steelers will have to rely on their home talent, at least for the first year.
Locals have been a pleasant surprise at camp, as Morrissette said each of them has progressed over the year and have improved since last season.
But the Steelers have lost its fair share of local talent as well, as many female players have decided to play for other teams in the province as opposed to staying home and continuing in Lloydminster. With open borders across the province, every player has that right and option, as the decision where to play hockey in the future for female players now has greater options.
While that doesn’t help the Steelers, who still expect to see players show up who were cut from other camps around the province, Morrissette said with the girls he has, there’s been no personal issues in the dressing room or on the ice, and the team only wants players who want to be here, not players who make Lloydminster their last option.
“I’m really happy about the fact that this a really good group of girls,” said Morrissette.
“I think this could be a really fun year. I can’t tell you there is one girl who played last year who isn’t better today. It’s them making a commitment to get better. All these girls didn’t just take the spring and summer off and showed up here. They all worked during the spring and summer, some played other sports.”
With his eye on a few players at other camps, the Morrissette could still see some movement in the roster because the lineup has to be finalized on Oct. 1. A growing problem early on has been other centres have not informed their players about the second skate option, so Morrissette may need to make more phone calls early in order to get additional players.
“There’s going to be a push from Hockey Alberta (for second skate),” said Morrissette. “There is like 100 girls trying out in Calgary. Some of the other centres are not educating the parents and players about second skates. It’s going to be a process.”
Lloydminster will take part in a few tournaments and exhibition games leading up to the start of the season in October.

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