The Steelers had 48 players take part in their training camp, which started Monday following last weekend s rookie camp. Preseason action begins Sept. 2 for Selkirk. GM Ken Petrash said the team will set its 2010-11 roster of 23 players after the MJHL preseason ends Sept. 14.
A record 17 Selkirk Steelers' veterans, along with more than 30 prospective players hit the ice at Selkirk Rec Complex earlier this week for the Junior A team's main camp.
Steelers' general manager, Ken Petrash said the team outlook is positive right now.
Coming out of last weekend's fall rookie camp, the club made no mistakes during selection for main camp, Petrash added.
"We're going to have some real tough decisions to make on who's going to be the final 22, 23 guys on this roster."
Club personnel set out to evaluate 48 players during training camp starting Monday, Aug. 31. Petrash noted head coach Ryan Smith made it clear to players that summer hockey was over, and game-level intensity was expected during drills and scrimmages.
Petrash said the club is looking to 18-year-old Matt Kaarela, of Thunder Bay, to stand out on offence during the preseason. Kaarela singed with the Steelers in June.
As well, Petrash expects first-year Michael Hay to fit in nicely with the other Steelers' forwards. The club is waiting on Hay's release from the WHL's Swift Current Broncos, Petrash said.
After last season's first-round playoff loss to the Winkler Flyers, Petrash said the Steelers are optimistic about the upcoming season. "Everybody had a sour taste in their mouth when we left at the end of last season," Petrash remembered.
"It's not going to happen to us two years in a row."
The MJHL 2010-11 season opens Sept. 17, but preseason action began Tuesday.
Selkirk is set to take on its Addision-division rivals during the next two weeks. Before playing their first exhibition match at home versus the Steinbach Pistons tonight, the Steelers faced off against the Winnipeg South Blues at the MTS Iceplex Thursday. The Steelers next face the Blues at home Sunday, Sept. 5.
Reducing violence and bullying in Jr. A hockey
But as the Steelers prepared for preseason action this week, a recent announcement from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) could have players reevaluating contact situations on the ice.
This season, the MJHL will join forces with four other members of the Canadian Junior Hockey League to eliminate on-ice violence and bullying.
"Our league and its teams, coaches and players are committed to providing a safe environment for every player while also maintaining an exciting, physical brand of hockey on the ice," said MJHL commissioner Kim Davis in a news release.
The 'Junior A Supplement' is a two-year pilot project created to reduce aggressive behaviour on the ice, thereby protecting players from related injuries.
Supported by Jr. A leagues in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Maritimes, the project addresses infractions including blows to the head, dangerous hits, accumulated major penalties or misconducts, as well as instigating or unnecessary fighting.
"It's an emotional game on the ice, and it's going to be tough enough to control guys' emotions," said Petrash about the new regulations.
Building on strict policies implemented throughout the past 10 years to eliminate dangerous plays, the supplement will track incidents of foul play, call for increased suspensions and enforce large fines.
"If a guy gets into six or seven fights during the year, it's going to get costly for the hockey club," added Petrash.
The GM went on to say the supplement's policies may eliminate the need for "resident tough guys" on the bench.
"You definitely need to think about the type of player you have on your team. You still want to have team toughness, but the guys are going to have to be able to play hockey at the same time," he said.
The supplement developed as a response to Hockey Canada's regulation 6.7, from which a major penalty for fighting results in an automatic game misconduct.
Because of their targeted, preventative approach to on-ice violence, leagues belonging to the supplement will not be held to that regulation.
According to the supplement, comparing data between its project and a control group following Hockey Canada's regulation 6.7 should determine the impact of ejecting a player for his first fighting major on trends in aggressive and violent behaviour in Jr. A hockey.