TISDALE — For the Tisdale Trojans, this season has been all about development – for the players and the program.
The Trojans were back on the ice after playing only three regular season games in 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a squad stocked with 18 rookies – and the two veterans only seeing action in three contests the previous campaign at most – the Trojans aimed to develop their young talent and their team culture. Tisdale wrapped up its Saskatchewan Male U18 AAA Hockey League season last weekend by grabbing three out a possible four standings points with a 6-4 victory over Battlefords on Saturday and a 5-4 overtime loss to that squad on Sunday.
“It’s always good to see success,” Tisdale head coach Dennis Kubat said. “I’m proud of the boys for never quitting on us. They played hard when they knew the playoffs were not in the picture.”
The Trojans finished the season with a 6-35-3 record. Kubat acknowledged it has been a grind but said there are a lot of positives.
“If you look at the big picture, the wins and losses, yeah, it’s not there, but it’s more than that. … It’s the process. The guys that have bought in and are putting in the time … and take that over to the offseason are going to see the results.”
Cumberland House’s Pavel McKenzie led the Trojans in both goals (24) and points (43) in 44 games. Matthew Van Blaricom of Southey and Shaunavon’s Madden Wallis each had a team-high 21 assists. Lumsden’s Simon Martin paced the Trojans’ defencemen with 12 points. Goaltender Cody Wilson of Archerwill had a team-best four wins.
Nipawin’s Finley Radloff was second on the club in scoring with 36 points. He had 21 points in 17 games in the 2022 portion of the schedule. He is just one example of how the players developed over the season. Kubat said he has witnessed every player make strides. After talking with the team, the head coach said:
“Lots of them have been happy with the way they developed throughout the year. Lots of guys have been getting bigger opportunities and bigger roles than they might have if they went to a different team. Hopefully, that’ll translate well over to next year.”
While defenceman Cole Barry has learned many technical hockey lessons in his two seasons with the Trojans, the Saskatoon product has also picked up key things about the mental side of the game.
“Playing for the Trojans this year has helped my game by making sure to stay positive during times of adversity and to keep on working hard as well as to support your teammates,” he said.
Barry and Wilson are the only Trojans who age out after this season. Kubat said both of the 2004-born players have been key guys for the team. He praised them for working hard and wearing the jersey with pride.
“I hope they come and watch us next year and we’re having success and they realize they were a part of it,” he said. “With Cody, he took on a big-time leadership role with the team. Obviously, as a goalie, he can’t wear a letter, but he’s one of the leaders. He’s just a good person and a hard worker. If it’s hockey or it’s life, he’s going to be successful. …
“Ever since Christmas, Cole has really stepped up his communication in the dressing room, his ability to buy in to the way we want to play, and the details he wants to play with. As a staff, we are going to do everything we can for these guys to continue their hockey careers.”
Of his two seasons with the Trojans, Wilson said, “I will definitely remember being at the rink each and every day and hanging out with the guys”.
This season, Kubat has liked the work ethic the Trojans brought every day to practice. As well, with 18 newcomers, he said, “Getting to know them as people and who they are and where they want to go has been really enjoyable.”
While the season has been going on, general manager Cole Simpson, Kuabt and their staff have been working hard at recruiting players for next season. Kubat said he has been really happy with recruiting. Those recruits will join a young core that has certainly made strides this season.
“I hope fans and the community realize how much better we’ve gotten from day one,” Kubat said. “Hopefully, they’re as excited as we are about what we can have in the future here.”
The Trojans last week
Monday, Feb. 21 in Moose Jaw
Moose Jaw 8, Tisdale 1
Trojans Scorer: Ashtyn Shields
Generals Scorers: Jonah Marshall (2), Rowan Calvert, Jake Briltz, Connor Miller, Blake Betson, Austin Woodley, Daxin Peterson
Goalies: Cody Wilson, Tisdale, 42 saves on 50 shots; Ryan Bain, Moose Jaw, 37 on 38
Notes: Moose Jaw led 2-0 and 6-1 at the intermissions. Each team scored once on the powerplay.
Tuesday, Feb. 22 in Wilcox
Notre Dame 6, Tisdale 3
Trojans Scorers: Owen Myhre, Finley Radloff, Matthew Van Blaricom
Hounds Scorers: Kaden McLean (2), Ty Beacon, Johnny Lopez, Andrew Altwasser, Luke Marshall
Goalies: Brady Kashuba, Tisdale, 47 saves on 53 shots; Joey Rocha, Notre Dame, 18 on 21
Notes: Radloff and Pavel McKenzie each had two points for Tisdale. Notre Dame led 3-1 after the first period and 6-3 after the second. Neither team scored in the third.
Saturday, Feb. 26 in North Battleford
Tisdale 6, Battlefords 4
Trojans Scorers: Pavel McKenzie (4), Finley Radloff, Matthew Van Blaricom
Stars Scorers: Dawson Gerwing (3), Wyatt Wurtz,
Goalies: Brady Kashuba, Tisdale, 30 saves on 34 shots; Rhett Harkot, Battlefords, 23 on 28
Notes: Tisdale trailed 3-1 late in the first period before McKenzie’s second goal of the frame pulled the Trojans to within one, 3-2. Radloff tied the contest in the second on a powerplay, but Gerwing’s third of the game put the Stars on top 4-3 at the second intermission. In the third, McKenzie scored and then Van Blaricom lit the lamp on the powerplay to put Tisdale ahead. McKenzie capped the game with an empty net goal. “The boys made a lot of good plays in the third, had a good start, played with confidence, took advantage of our opportunities,” Trojans head coach Dennis Kubat said. McKenzie finished with five points. “Pavel has been a pleasure to watch all year,” Kubat said. “He does so many good things for us out on the ice. It has been a pleasure to watch his development this season. He has come a long way on and off the ice.”
Sunday, Feb. 27 in North Battleford
Battlefords 5, Tisdale 4 OT
Trojans Scorers: Finley Radloff (2), Jared Burnett, Matthew Van Blaricom
Stars Scorers: Jakin Lawrence (2), Easton Adrian, Rylan Williams, Kobie Anderson
Goalies: Cody Wilson, Tisdale, 50 saves on 55 shots; Rhett Harkot, Battlefords, 18 on 22
Notes: The Trojans had a strong start to take a 3-0 first period lead. Tisdale held a 4-2 lead at the second intermission. The Stars scored twice in the third to force overtime. Lawrence had the OT winner. “Today we capitalized on our chances early,” Tisdale head coach Dennis Kubat said. “We did not play our best all game, too soft on pucks, and did not love the compete level, but good teams need to find ways to win those games.” Radloff was the away star. It was the sixth time in the team’s last 10 games that he was named one of the game stars. The Trojans finished their season with a 6-35-3 record.
“I am proud of the boys this year and everything they battled through. Great group of kids on and off the ice. It was an absolute pleasure to be the coach.”
— Tisdale Trojans head coach Dennis Kubat