Tough start for Steel
AJHL team winless in four games
Saturday, Sep 24, 2011 06:00 am
Putting a full game together has been tougher than expected for the struggling St. Albert Steel.
“We’re working hard but only in spurts, so we’re learning pretty quick that if you don’t play 60 minutes you’re not going to have a chance at this level,” said Greg Parks, head coach and general manager of the 0-4 Steel. “When we put our mind to it and we’re focused and committed we’re going to be OK.”
The Steel started their fifth Alberta Junior Hockey League season by losing 3-2 to the Olds Grizzlys (2-2), 6-5 to the Sherwood Park Crusaders (3-0) in St. Albert’s home opener, 9-2 to the Grande Prairie Storm (1-3) and 5-3 to the Drayton Valley Thunder (2-3).
“To be honest I’m not sure if we do deserve a better fate,” Parks said. “I guess the only positive is there is no championships won in September. We’re four games in and 56 left.”
Is Parks discouraged?
“Disappointed a little bit for sure but it’s still a good group of kids,” he said. “We’ll continue to tweak as we see fit.”
The main core of the Steel’s 25-man roster consists of 10 returning players. There are also 10 rookies and five newcomers with junior experience.
“It’s a process, right? We’re trying to figure out as a group what we’re willing to do and what buttons we have to push,” Parks said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to get better, no question about that.”
The Steel’s third road loss was Tuesday’s setback in Drayton Valley. John Baird potted two goals on the power play and assisted on Reed Linaker’s even-strength marker. St. Albert trailed 3-2 after two periods, but the Thunder tallied twice in the third before Baird closed out the scoring with his team-leading third goal and sixth point.
The Steel was outshot 46-40. In net was Rhys Hadfield (0-2, 5.13 GAA).
“We got off to a really good start. We were up 1-0 [at the 4:45 mark] and then down 3-1 after the first period. We had a pretty good discussion after the first and we came out with a great second period. We scored once [on 21 shots] and could’ve had a couple of more,” Parks said.
The Steel and Crusaders hooked up Friday in St. Albert but the score was unavailable at press time. The teams play again tonight in Sherwood Park at 7 p.m.
The next home game is Tuesday against the Bonnyville Pontiacs (4-1). Faceoff is 7 p.m. at Performance Arena.
ICE CHIPS: The Steel traded defenceman David Randall to Grande Prairie for future considerations. Randall, 17, had one goal and six assists in 53 games with the Steel as an AJHL rookie.
The Steel picked up forward Jamie Johnson from the Fort McMurray Oil Barons for future considerations. Last season Johnson, 19, posted 11 goals and 27 points in 44 games with the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. In June the Oil Barons acquired the Edmonton resident for goalie Davis Jones, who won a midget AA provincial championship in 2009 with the St. Albert Crusaders.