YORKTON - With the snow hinting it might finally melt and that spring might finally come one tends to think hockey, at least locally, is over.
However, that is not the case for the Yorkton U18 AAA Maulers, and their new head coach Darrel Mann.
Mann is hard at work trying to build a Mauler roster for the 2022-23 season where he will try to improve the team’s record. The Maulers finished with an 8-31-0-4 record for 11th place in the provincial male U18 league.
“I’ve been hard at it recruiting like crazy,” Mann told Yorkton This Week Thursday, amid the final day of activities at the team’s spring camp.
The recruiting efforts paid off in terms of players for Mann to evaluate at the camp at the Westland Insurance Arena where 126 players turned out hoping to impress the new Yorkton coach.
Mann said the number was larger than might be considered normal, but he is trying to build a team that will be better than it was.
By Thursday afternoon Mann was down to looking at the top-40 from camp, including seven who played with the Maulers this past season.
Out of the camp Mann said he’s having to start to make the decisions about what his roster will look like in the fall. He explained by league rules teams have to have 15 players ‘carded’ by May.
“After that you finalize the roster,” he said.
While Mann admitted deciding on what a player might be in the fall is something of a challenge in April.
“You have to look at guys and project what they’ll be like in the fall,” he said.
But, in the case of this camp, Mann said he had a lot of talent to choose from. He predicted “30 will play in the league next year.” He added that puts some pressure on the get the players they want carded, because those they don’t will attend other camps and likely be lost to other rosters.
Certainly, Mann had a vision in terms of what sort of team he was looking to build.
“We want to make Yorkton a tough place to come into and play,” he said.
In that regard, Mann said he really like the size of players in camp, a good step toward being a physical team to play.
That said, Mann said there wasn’t necessarily evidence of players who would put up huge numbers offensively, but rather he saw a group of players he believes can all contribute and give the team offensive depth.
In the end, Mann said he will likely sign more than the required 15 after camp, leaving only a couple of spots up for grabs in the fall.