Sabres learning to compete
One win in three games to start the bantam AAA season
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 03, 2012 06:00 am
It’s been a work in progress for the St. Albert Sabres during the opening week in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League.
The Sabres are 1-2, as the majority of the players try to make the jump from bantam AA or peewee to the AAA ranks.
Only netminder Matt Murray and defenceman Josh Mahura are back from last season’s fourth-place 18-8-7 team in the nitro north division.
“We seem to be getting comfortable with this level and we’re finding a comfort level with speed a little bit. We’re definitely progressing forward,” said head coach Donovan Sugiyama. “That being said, we need to work on our shift in and shift out compete level and understand that AAA bantam hockey is highly competitive. For us to compete we needed to be our best shift in and shift out.”
A lack of compete cost the Sabres at home in Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Lloydminster Heat, 3-0-1 in the charger north division.
It was downhill after defenceman Zach Sherburne scored 25 seconds into the match.
The Heat replied with three goals on 14 shots before the period ended, then potted singles in the next two periods while outshooting the Sabres 47-10. In net for St. Albert was Matt Murray.
Sugiyama described the loss as frustrating.
“Things started off really well for us. We scored on our first shot and then just struggled to compete at the level we needed to for the rest of the night,” he said.
Friday the Sabres doubled the KC Squires 4-2 at Callingwood Arena. Zach Webb, Jake Letourneau, Zach Tisi and Jaedon Leslie scored and Joshua Dechaine stopped 33 shots. Tisi’s power-play marker with 4:15 left in the middle frame stood as the game winner. The Sabres registered 39 shots.
“We really showed up and played fairly well for 60 minutes. It was good to see that effort for 60 minutes,” Sugiyama said.
Last Wednesday in the home opener the Sabres lost 3-2 to the Leduc Oil Kings at Akinsdale Arena. It was 2-2 after two periods. Connor Deighton connected on the power play and Zach Nuttall also scored in the second. Shots were 32-25 for Leduc. Murray was in net.
“It was the first home game and the first league game for a lot of those kids at this level and we definitely fought nerves through the first 20 minutes for sure,” Sugiyama said. “After that we got ourselves into some penalty trouble and that definitely hurt us the rest of the way.”
After three games Sugiyama was encouraged by the performances of a trio of Sabres.
“A good positive would be the play of Jake Letourneau and Zach Webb, two of our forwards who showed up fairly consistently over our first three games,” he said. “The play on Friday on the back end by Josh Mahura really made a big difference for us too.”
Thursday the Sabres visit the Spruce Grove Saints at 6 p.m. at Grant Fuhr Arena. Saturday they play the Maple Leafs at 2:30 p.m. at Castledowns Arena.