It’s going to be another short holiday season for both of Saskatoon’s Midget AAA boys hockey teams, the Contacts and Blazers, as both have been invited to the Mac’s Hockey Tournament in Calgary.
The tournament provides these teams with a platform to showcase their abilities to a large audience, which includes scouts and media members.
“Yeah, it’s a big deal, there’s a lot of media around it and it’s just really cool to have another year to experience it and to try and win it,” said Saskatoon Blazers goalie Brett Mirwald.
“I think it’s a big deal,” Saskatoon Contacts forward Alex Bernauer said. “Last year I was out with a knee injury so it’ll be good to be back there. There’s a lot of exposure there so it’ll be good and hopefully, we can do well.”
The level of excitement in each dressing room isn’t just contained to the players as the coaches are all excited to participate in such a historic tournament.
“It’s a great tournament,” Contacts coach Marc Chartier said. “The kids get pumped to go there, (and) we’re excited, as coaches, to go play. You get a lot of hockey in the short term, I enjoy being there as well, it’s a very prestigious tournament.”
Despite the anticipation built around the event, it can be a bit straining on the families of the teams due to the tournament starting on Boxing Day.
“You’ve got to have a very understanding wife and family to be able to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to be leaving at noon on Christmas Day,'” Blazers coach Scott Scissons said. “I’ve been fortunate that I have lots of support from home.
“For all of the kids and their families, fortunately, for them, it’s just a one-off or two-off, where hopefully for us it’s going to become a bit of a habit.”
Each team gets one day off during the round-robin. For the Blazers it falls on the 28th, giving them a break in the middle of the tournament. The Contacts, on the other hand, will play for four straight days, but get an extra day in Saskatoon as their day off is Boxing Day.
Regardless of how you’re schedule shakes out, both coaches agree that player usage is key in such a condensed tournament.
“I think us learning how to manage our time, and having a deep enough team to roll lines will allow us to be stronger later in the tournament,” Scissons said.
“You’re playing every day there, or four out of five days before you get to the playoff round where you’ve got to play twice,” Chartier said. “In that tournament, you’ve got to play everybody through too, you’ve got to manage your players.”