The Laurier Brantford men’s extramural hockey team held its first tryout this past Tuesday and already there is a lot of optimism surrounding the team. The boys came off a season last year where despite some impressive semi-final appearances and great play, they were never able to bring home any hardware. However, co-captain of the team Dylan Jones believes that the team will have the players to be competitive, with a core of returning players leading the way.

“I am expecting just over half of last year’s team to be returning players, with a core group of third and fourth year students who have all played on the team since their first year so I am expecting good team chemistry once again this year,” says Jones.

Despite this core group of third and fourth year students returning to suit up for the team, the team will be missing a big part of their team due to many veteran players graduating from the school.

As captain Dylan Jones points out, “The other half of the team last year were older players so we will miss their experience but there are plenty of talented first and second years who I expect to fill those positions and be able contribute to the team right away.”

Recreation Program Coordinator Lynne Gulliver, who’s in charge of scheduling games and piecing together the team, was impressed by the tryouts on Tuesday and also by the number of junior who came out.

“I feel the tryouts went well. We had 28 guys tryout and we were only able to take 15 plus two goalies. There were a lot of first years attending which is always good to see,” says Gulliver.

Although the boys are filled with talent up and down the roster and have made the semifinals on a regular basis, Jones believes that changes need to be made to how the boys play together as a team. He feels the team needs to play on the ice as a unit with everyone knowing and doing their part for the team.

“In my opinion, this year our team needs more structure. We have a roster of very talented individuals but we ended going into tournaments and playing in a scrimmage style, which worked against weaker teams but was too inconsistent in the long run. I would like to see us establish certain players as specialists, i.e. power play  guys and penalty kill guys, so that guys have a role that can really get into and they know their job each game,” says Jones.

Gulliver also believes that this team is something more than what has been seen in previous years, especially with the overall dedication and attitude of the guys.

“Compared to last year we seem to have more talent and dedicated. This is very important to me as I look for a team that is both committed and good role models around campus,” says Gulliver.

Co- captain Andrew Pawluk also believes this year’s team has added talent to an already solid roster and believes that these improvements may be what the Hawks needed to finally come out on top.

“We have added some talented new players as well as depth to the lineup. We have a dedicated and passionate group of guys and hope to bring home a championship to Laurier Brantford,” says Pawluk.

The team is currently trying to organize an exhibition game against Conestoga College for October 19, but until that comes together the boys will be getting ready for their first tournament scheduled for November 23 when they head to Humber College with the hopes of finally bringing home some hardware.