The U18 AAA female Central Plains Capitals got to take the ice this weekend at their showcase tournament at Stride Place.
Eleven teams came to the twelfth annual event and each played in four exhibition contests ahead of the 2022-23 season. Capitals head coach Brendan Schaan says this was a huge benefit for the girls.
"It shows our girls what this level is all about. With a team like this, that has three or four veterans that have played in this league before, everyone else is learning on the fly," Schaan continues. "We picked our team on Tuesday, had skates on Tuesday and Wednesday with mild systems in place, and since then it's been trial by fire. This has definitely opened eyes."
While the Caps weren't able to come away with a win, they still played in a lot of competitive games, including their last contest with the Vancouver Island Seals, which resulted in a 3-3 tie. Schaan talks about what the squad will be working on going forward.
"We've been preaching it since the beginning, we're a young team, so we have to use our feet and play with intensity every time we're on the ice," Schaan explains. "If you take a shift off in this league, it's going to come back and bite you. If we can get in the habit of all 18 players going shift after shift competing to the best of their abilities, we'll be in a good spot. As soon as we take a shift off, that's when trouble starts."
This is the head coach's first year under the helm of any team at the AAA level, and he notes the showcase was also a great place for him to learn how things will operate this season.
"It shows me some tendencies that other coaches have in this league and what we need to do to almost counter coach. Some teams like to play with size, some play with skill, and for others, it's just flat-out speed. Being able to adjust your style, and I think I have the group of girls that can check every box. So, we can figure out ways to defend but it's just about recognizing what other teams are doing and going from there."
Central Plains will be preparing for the next two weeks before hitting the road on October 2 for their regular season opener against the Pembina Valley Hawks.