It’s a simple task.
Find a way to recover 202 points of offence. Even if that means all 18 ladies on the Lloydminster PWM Steelers have to contribute. It’s unquestionably one of the biggest challenges the Steelers will have to overcome if they want to be in the mix for a Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League championship. And it may just come down to a matter of time.
Last year, the Steelers had the benefit of the top three scorers in the AMMFHL. Delaney Ross led the league with 34 goals and 78 points, while Delaney Edwards had 63 points and Kennedy Ganser had 61. Edwards, however, plays at Mount Royal College now, while Ross and Ganser are at the Warner Hockey Academy, looking to take their game to the next level.
Which leaves a big hole for the Steelers to fill. But it doesn’t mean the experience isn’t there. Kimberly Hughes, Nicole Kobelka and LaShawn Vick return for another season, while Erinn Baddock brings the Warner Hockey Academy experience into the fold, as the Vermilion native is now a Steeler. So even with a 1-2 start to the season, the panic button isn’t even looking like an option to new head coach Tim Willoughby. It’s all just a work in progress and being smarter hockey players.
“This year is going to be more committee of girls and just making smarter shots,” said Willoughby. “I still believe it doesn’t matter if you have scoring from three girls or you got three great goaltenders in the mix, you still have to win as a team. We have a nice mix of players who can play any position.”
It’s all just a puzzle on the floor looking to be assembled. For a first year coach, Willoughby is still figuring out the mind set of his players. Are they offensive, defensive, and what are their tactics on the ice. Starting the season the way they have isn’t even a stressing point for Willoughby, who said he will take a little higher than an even record through the first half of the season before, what he hopes, is a turn around in the second half as the Steelers work towards a top four finish.
On the blue line, the Steelers have a little of everything. Six strong skaters who all possess a different skill set, offering Willoughby something unique. Though for now, he has to figure out where they all play. Without a dedicated blue-line rusher or power-play specialist, there is movement to come on the back end, while returning goalie Ashton Gosselin and second starter Camille Scherger control the crease.
“I can mix and match all my players and feel comfortable throwing any of them in any situation,” said Willoughby.
“Being a month into the season, I am happy I can throw players out there at different positions with different players. Once we get that cohesive line set, you’ll see some more chemistry.”
All of it comes down to learning. How to play together, when to shoot and where, what to do in a situation, and learning, for some, to play at the midget level of hockey. It’s a long season and slowly the pieces are coming together.