TISDALE — Although the shorthanded Tisdale Trojans fell in their season opener, the Saskatchewan Male U18 AAA Hockey League squad was happy to be back on the ice.
The Trojans lost 7-0 to the Saskatoon Blazers on Sunday afternoon. It was the team’s first meaningful game since March 12 as the SMAAAHL playoffs were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic after game two of their semifinal series against the Regina Pat Canadians. Injuries and suspensions mean the Tisdale club is playing shorthanded to start this season. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the team is not able to restock the roster with affiliated players as it usually would.
“I have been looking forward to the first regular season game ever since our season was prematurely cut short last March,” Trojans defenceman Cole Tanchuk said. “We train in the offseason both on and off the ice to be prepared for the start of the regular season. We have been working hard in practice and the team is coming together nicely. Right now, we are short a bunch of guys, but we will work through it and be stronger for it.”
The Trojans were pleased to open the 2020-21 regular season in front of their supporters at the Tisdale RECplex. Although there were seating limitations and other protocols in place, goalie Hunter Lolacher said:
“It was definitely a great feeling playing in such a great atmosphere again. Obviously, not the outcome we wanted but it was nice to see everyone coming out to support the team.”
Playing with 12 skaters, Tisdale trailed 1-0 after the first period due to a Blazers’ powerplay goal. Saskatoon scored in the second to take a 2-0 lead.
“I really liked our effort the first 40,” Tisdale head coach Dennis Kubat said. “They started to play our systems and started to trust what the coaching staff was saying. We took a lot of positives out of the first 40.”
In the third, against a team expected to be one of the league’s best, Kubat said his squad got tired and the Blazers capitalized. Saskatoon scored five times in the final frame. Kubat said, “You got to find a way to battle 60 no matter how many guys you got in the lineup.”
The head coach praised the play of Lolacher, who made 41 saves. Kubat said, “[Hunter] gave us a chance to win. He played really well, like we’ve come to expect every time he’s on the ice.”
The Trojans expect to be shorthanded for a few more weeks. Kubat said his team needs to “weather the storm.”
“We talked about adversity building character. We’re going through some adversity right now. We’ll see how the guys react and what kind of character we have in our program.”
Warman’s Jordan Normand has been selected as this year’s captain. Serving as assistant captains will be Kylynn Olafson of Lanigan, Prince Albert’s Cole Tanchuk, and Tisdale’s own Nicholas Andrusiak. All are 16-year-olds in their second seasons with the team. Andrusiak and Tanchuk are defencemen while the others play forward.
“They just are what our program is about: working hard, doing well in school, being positive role models in the community, having positive attitudes. A great group of four guys,” Kubat said.
Tanchuk said being part of the leadership group “comes with a lot of responsibility and I take my role very seriously. Tisdale is a great team with a proud history and I want to continue that tradition.”
The Trojans last week
Sunday, Nov. 1 in Tisdale
Saskatoon Blazers 7, Tisdale 0
Blazers Scorers: Logan McCutcheon, Spencer Bell, Holden Doell, Braxton Buckberger, Hunter Mayo, Matty Edwards, Boston Buckberger
Goalies: Hunter Lolacher, Tisdale, 41 saves on 48 shots; James Venne, Saskatoon, 24 on 24
Notes: Saskatoon led 1-0 and 2-0 at the intermissions. The Trojans killed off five of the Blazers’ seven power plays. Tisdale was unable to score on its five power plays.
The Trojans (0-1) host the Prince Albert Mintos (0-1) on Saturday. The two teams meet again in P.A. on Sunday.