With the hockey season just weeks away, the Smithers Steelheads are looking for some young, fresh talent to help defend their CIHL championship title this season.
Tryouts started last week and will continue this week.
Almost 20 players came out for the first of three tryouts Saturday night.
Head coach Tom DeVries hopes young players from midget will consider joining the team this year.
“Last year, we had a tough time getting players due to a lack of commitment. Over the last few years, not a lot of young guys have tried out for our team, so hopefully we can get some guys out of midget or a couple of years outside of midget to tryout,” said DeVries.
While the Houston Luckies couldn’t get enough players to ice a team this season, DeVries would also like to see some of them tryout with the Steelheads.
“We’re allowed to hold about 40 guys on the roster, which is good to have a lot of guys in case they have other commitments. It’s good to have a lot of bodies,” he said.
General manager Kelly Zacharias said they are also looking to add depth to their lineup.
“We’re looking for players who are willing to play at a competitive level and are 18 years or older,” said Zacharias. “We’ve been pretty successful the past few years, we’d just like to add more depth to the lineup and grow on our systems from there. The ultimate goal is winning the league and winning the playoffs.”
DeVries added there will be roughly 10 players returning.
“Our goaltender is coming back and hopefully we can get another goaltender and just get bodies out there so we can stay well rested during the game,” said DeVries.
One of the players who will be returning to the ice in October and attended Saturday’s tryouts is forward Ian Smith.
“We want to do what we’ve done for the past three years, but every year is different, other teams get new players or lose players. Until the first game, you don’t really know what the season is going to look like,” said Smith, who has been playing with the Steelheads for 11 years.
“There’s lots of young guys out here, so it’s a little quicker than I thought,” he said, adding that for many players Saturday’s practice was their first time on the ice in months.
“We’re a little rusty out there, but it’s alright.”
While the first tryout session brought out more players than normal, Zacharias hopes more people will consider joining the team.
“We encourage anybody who wants to play to come out for the tryouts. We’re looking forward to another successful year,” he said.
Last season, the Steelheads captured their third straight CIHL championship, beating the Williams Lake Stampeders 5-2 in March.
Their first game of the season is in Terrace against the River Kings on Oct. 4 and their first home game is also against the Kings on Oct. 18.
Tryouts will continue Wednesday, Sept. 17 from 9-10:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 21 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Smithers Civic Centre.