Edge Mountaineers midget prep team ready for CSSHL season

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The Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s (CSSHL) 2018-19 season is just around the corner – and for the Edge School Mountaineers midget prep hockey team, preparation for the upcoming campaign is in full swing.

Head coach James Poole said he is excited about his team’s potential this season.

“So far, with this group, there are some quality hockey players who all have some good potential – not just for this year, but in their hockey careers,” he said.

“It’s been a fun group to work with that seems to enjoy working hard and working together. We’re looking forward to the season, for sure.”

The Mountaineers finished eighth out of 16 teams in the 2017-18 regular season, qualifying for the CSSHL playoffs with a 20-13-3 record.

According to Poole, the squad started its post-season run strong by going undefeated in the round-robin portion of the playoff tournament, before losing in the semi-final.

It was a back-and-forth kind of season last year, Poole said. The Mountaineers came out hot to start the 2017-18 campaign, but suffered a downward slump in November and December. According to Poole, Edge’s players managed to gel as a team in the second half of the campaign, allowing the squad to round off the season on a positive note.

“We seemed to right the ship in the second half of the year,” he said.

“From a team that struggled in 2017, we seemed to really pull it together to finish strong in 2018.”

According to Poole, this season will feature many new faces in the Mountaineers lineup. The only returning players currently committed are forwards Lucas Foley and Adin Kennedy, as well as defenceman Tucker Mcrae.

Furthermore, Poole said, some prospective players for the Mountaineers are trying to crack the lineups for various teams at the major junior level.

“We’re still waiting to see what’s going to happen with a few players who are still at [Western Hockey League] camps, to see if they’re going to come back to us or whether they’re going to end up making WHL teams,” Poole said, adding the roster should be finalized by Sept. 20.

The Mountaineers’ preseason schedule begins before that, however, with a trip to Penticton, B.C., to take on the Okanagan Hockey Academy, Sept. 14. The team’s 2018-19 regular season opener will come Sept. 22, with an away game against the Banff Hockey Academy.

Edge’s home opener will be against the OHA Edmonton Midget Prep team Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. According to Poole, Edge is hosting a CSSHL league showcase that weekend, featuring many of its opponents from the the midget prep league.

“There will be some good teams at our rink and we’ll get a good idea of where we stack up right away,” he said.

The Mountaineers will play three home fixtures that weekend. After taking on OHA Edmonton, the team will face off against the Rink Hockey Academy’s midget prep team (Winnipeg) Sept. 29 and the Northern Alberta Xtreme’s midget prep team (Edmonton) Sept. 30.

Poole said he expects a tough campaign, but added he and the Edge players are excited to start the season.

“The competition is tough,” he said. “That said, our expectation is to win a championship.

“I think with this group, there’s that potential. But there’s going to be a lot of hard work involved, and it’s going to be a long process.”

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