October 24th, 2020

SAHA women’s program keeping things fresh

By RYAN MCCRACKEN on October 13, 2020.

rmccracken@medicinehatnews.com@MHNMcCracken

South Alberta Hockey Academy’s female prep program is doing what it can to keep things fresh while working toward its Canadian Sport School Hockey League debut.

Female prep squad head coach Evan Vossen says the academy is hoping to get into some exhibition action at some point this month, with the official season set to kick off in November, but they’ve been making the most of the wait by focusing on development and team building. 

“We’re just trying to keep the spirits up and keep trying to find different ways to keep the girls engaged in practice,” said Vossen. “Some skill development pieces and some smaller games to try and keep it fun but also keep it competitive among the group. Then we’re just trying to get a little creative with a few different things to keep everybody engaged.”

SAHA program development coordinator Darren MacMillan says the team is looking at dropping the puck on exhibition play this weekend at the Family Leisure Centre - the same weekend the U18 male squad opens its campaign against the Calgary Edge U17s – though game specifics were still awaiting league confirmation as of late last week. 

The regional schedule – which is limited to three U18 female CSSHL programs in Alberta – will put SAHA in three-game series against the Calgary Edge and Northern Alberta Xtreme in November with a 14-day non-competition period in between each matchup. 

The Edge and NAX open their seasons against each other for a three-game series starting Oct. 16, leaving SAHA trying to lock down an exhibition opponent for the weekend in the meantime. At the culmination of the regular season, the top two teams will face off in a best-of-three championship series.

No stranger to the CSSHL, Vossen joins SAHA after serving as Banff Hockey Academy’s male prep coach last season, and he says he’s been enjoying the transition.  

“The group of girls that we have is fantastic. I think the girls are eager and they want to learn, so they’re asking a lot of good questions,” said Vossen. “I’m more than happy to share because I think it’s important for them to understand why we’re doing different things and for them to have that understanding and comprehension so that can help them learn and develop.”

Vossen added there’s still plenty up in the air regarding a potential season, from cohorts to travel and beyond, but they’re focusing on the most likely first step -getting on the ice and playing a 60-minute exhibition game against another team.

“I think that’s kind of what we’re looking forward to, in the event that would happen. Where we go from there kind of remains to be seen,” he said. “I think Hockey Alberta has done a pretty good job of giving us at least a bit of a timeline. We’re hopeful that, ideally in a perfect world, that in the next two or three weeks we’ll be able to get into some action here, even if it’s just exhibition for this month.”

SAHA’s female prep program – which practices out of the Family Leisure Centre – still had a few open spots on the roster as of the beginning of October. While Vossen said they’re still hoping to fill the roles, he’s happy with the team’s numbers given the circumstances.

“We’ve got a couple spots that if we were able to fill, it would be great,” he said. “If not, we’ve got pretty decent numbers already so we’re happy with what it’s been seeing as the uncertainty of the world, I think, plays into it a little bit with everybody right now.”

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