It’s been a learning experience for the Port Perry MoJacks since opening training camp over a week ago in preparation for the upcoming COJHL season.
Opening pre-season play last week against the Little Britain Merchants, the MoJacks rolled out back-to-back wins, prevailing 7-1 in Lindsay and 4-2 on home ice at Scugog Arena.
It was the first meeting between the rival clubs since the fifth-seeded Merchants upset the fourth-place MoJacks three-games-to-one in the preliminary round of last year’s COJHL playoffs.
Two-goal nights from Tayler Bidon and Nitchell Gustavsen led the way for the MoJacks in their pre-season opener on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Austin Mackie, Ethan Ramsden and Todd McNair would all chip in with singles in the 7-1 win, with Nate Watson netting the Merchants’ lone goal.
On Thursday night, the two sides renewed hostilities at Scugog Arena, with a familiar result, as Graham Lamers, Bryce Patterson, Ben Shermetta and Jordan McCullough all scored for Port Perry, with Watson scoring both goals for the visiting Shopkeepers.
For both coaches, the result was secondary to the effort put forth on the ice, as teams pare down their numbers ahead of the 2015-16 COJHL campaign, which gets underway next weekend.
“For us, it comes down to simple things, and asking players to do things on the ice and seeing how they respond,” MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish told The Standard. “Most of all, you want to see if they’re making good hockey plays and showing good discipline.”
Overall, Cornish has been impressed with the skills on display through the first week of training camp.
“We’ve seen some excellent skill sets, and that’s what we were looking for coming into this season, and will hopefully be an area of our game where we are able to improve this season.”
Likewise, Merchants bench boss Rob Louttit has been pleased with the competitive nature of Little Britain’s camp.
“We’ve had some really pleasant surprises so far, and we’re bringing back a good group of veteran players that will hopefully be able to guide some of the new guys,” Louttit explained. “Chemistry is really important to us, and we’ll be looking to do some more team-building exercises before the season starts to make sure that we are all on the same page.”
A notable addition to the Merchants’ line-up this season will be 20-year-old Uxbridge native Keegan Cairns, who joins the team after spending the previous two seasons in the Junior ‘A’ ranks with the Lindsay Muskies. The 6’1” 180 lb. forward scored 12 goals and added 24 assists in 45 games with the Muskies last season. In 2013, Cairns suited up for his hometown Bruins, finishing with 30 points.
“It’s exciting to be back in the Central. Hopefully we can improve on last year’s finish. There are a lot of great fans in Little Britain, and hopefully we give them some exciting hockey to cheer about this year,” Cairns explained to The Standard.
- This weekend, the MoJacks will return to the Alliston Hornets Pre-Season Tournament. Over the past eight years, the MoJacks have enjoyed some great success at the tournament, which will feature 12 teams, drawn from the COJHL and Georgian Bay Mid-Ontario League.
The MoJacks open play on Friday, Sept. 11, at 8 p.m. against the Orillia Terriers. On Saturday, the MoJacks will hope for some good luck when the tangle with the Erin Shamrocks at 11:30 a.m., before wrapping up round robin play against the host Hornets at 3:45 p.m. The semi-finals are on Sunday at 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., with the championship game slated for 3 p.m.