Slash skates into new era
Phil Webb takes over head coach's role from Terry Sydor
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 08, 2012 06:00 am
The St. Albert Slash will make their mark this season with Phil Webb behind the bench.
Webb replaces longtime Slash head coach Terry Sydor, who stepped down in the offseason as the guiding light for the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League team.
“I respect what Terry did and what he accomplished over those years and I will try and continue that tradition,” Webb said. “He’s had success and hopefully we can follow in those footsteps and continue to run the team the same way and run it professionally and make it sort of the showcase female team in St. Albert.”
Webb makes his Slash coaching debut at this weekend’s exhibition tournament at the NAIT Arena. On Saturday at 3:30 p.m. the Slash plays the Grant MacEwan Griffins and on Sunday they take on the Prince Albert Bears at 10:30 a.m.
The score from Friday’s game between the Slash and Sherwood Park Fury was unavailable at press time.
Webb plans to finalize the Slash roster Sunday night.
“We want to make sure everybody gets plenty of opportunities to showcase themselves this weekend and hopefully secure a spot,” Webb said. “Once the weekend is done we will more or less get after it and start implementing all of our systems, which we’ve already started to do. That was kind of our focus this week with practice.”
Going into the tournament the Slash had three goalies, seven defencemen and 13 forwards in camp.
“We’ve had some good import girls come in from out of town that have been very impressive. That’s definitely a big plus,” Webb said. “We’ve also got quite a battle in goal right now.”
Eight returning players include defenceman Jessica Dyck and twins Ashley and Deanna Morin from Fort Saskatchewan. The trio is among 27 athletes vying for spots on Team Alberta for the National Women’s U18 Hockey Championship, Nov. 7 to 11 in Dawson Creek. This weekend they will be competing in a tournament against the University of Alberta Pandas and two bantam AAA male teams in Edmonton.
The Morins are expected to spearhead the Slash attack this season. Ashley was second-highest goal scorer in league play with 28 and tied for fourth in points with 41 in 28 games. Ashley finished 10th in the scoring race with 35 points in 28 games.
“They are probably two of the best players in the league,” said Webb.
He expects the Slash will be strong at both ends of the ice when regular season starts next weekend.
“I feel we’re heavily offensive so we’ll probably try and exploit other teams with our offence and obviously play fairly strong defensive hockey to try and keep the puck out of the net.”
A successful season will depend on whether the Slash can knock off the Edmonton Thunder. The Esso Cup bronze medallists in 2012 and silver medallists in 2011 when the Slash hosted the national championship have dominated the St. Albert squad over the years.
Last season marked the third year in a row the Thunder eliminated the Slash in the best-of-five north final. They also swept the 2010 series and in 2011 defeated the Slash in four games.
“For us to hit that next level and to be the Alberta champion we’re probably going to have to go through them,” Webb said. “With our systems that we’re putting in place and how this team is going to run, hopefully we’ll be able to beat them and that’s our goal.”
The Slash slogan this season is Be A Pro.
“We want the girls to act professionally every time they are at the rink. Once the team is together and you’re always acting professionally, the team will go in the right direction,” said Webb, head coach of the bantam AA St. Albert Steel males last season who has experience coaching female teams.