Monday, September 14th, 2009
Renegades win Shootout at the Plex
With many questions heading into the weekend, the Woodstock Renegades received some answers.
The top six forwards and the starting goaltender were set long ago, but the annual Shoot-Out at the Plex was a chance for the third- and fourth-line forwards and a handful of defencemen to make an impression on the team's coaching staff.
And, with four days remaining before the puck drops, Dave McLaren liked what he saw.
"Some tough positions," he said after Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Simcoe Storm. "(Forwards) 10 through 13 are pretty tough."
Players like Cole Maher and Mike Brilhante will be expected to carry the offence this season, but it was the role players McLaren and his staff had their eyes on during the tournament at Southwood Arena.
"The last few spots, they're all similar players," McLaren said. "Ten through 16, nobody is coming in and scoring three or four goals."
McLaren was impressed with the work ethic of the hopefuls who suited up for games against Simcoe, Caledonia and Burford.
"We've got a few deficiencies," he said. "Simcoe and Norwich are on one level, Woodstock and New Hamburg are on another."
Playing a mix of veterans and hopefuls, there was little in the way of systems during the weekend. Players had to improvise with different linemates and the results were largely positive.
"I think there's some good creativity up front," McLaren said. "(Goaltender) Alex Gegeny is going to have to hold us in some games for sure. We've got some work to do on defence. That's our challenge to get the defence solidified."
The Renegades' blue-line is without former captain Brandon Schell, Scott Austin and Jon Quinn. The latter pair McLaren expected to return this season.
Instead, Woodstock entered the weekend with three spots available in front of Gegeny and his eventual backup.
Coming off Thursday's exhibition loss to Tavistock, McLaren was looking forward to what the hopefuls would show him in the compressed tourney schedule.
Woodstock defeated Burford 4-1 in the opener, and after losing to the Storm, clinched a spot in the final with a 5-3 win over Caledonia.
The Renegades won the tourney for the first time with a 3-1 victory over the Storm.
"Once you get to the third game the cream starts to rise," McLaren said. "The fitness levels come out (and) playing under pressure and how they handle that. It makes all the difference."
The four-team event was smaller than in past years, when it was run by the late Mike Douglas. McLaren said the team wanted to honour Douglas, who passed away last month, during the tournament, but will instead do so prior to the season opener Friday against Aylmer.