Ah, the first faceoff of fall.
Nanaimo’s highest-calibre minor hockey team, the North Island Silvertips of the B.C. Major Midget League, start the 2011-12 season tonight (Sept. 24) against the Kootenay Ice.
The ’Tips go into the regular season feeling good about themselves after winning results in the pre-season.
This year’s Silvertips team is a fast group with plenty of high-end talent up front and the necessary role players around them.
“We’re moving the puck pretty quickly and I think we’ll be a faster and more skilled team … There’s still a lot of grit, though,” said Riley Medves, who will start in goal tonight.
Dan Lemmon, the new coach of the Silvertips, said this year’s group of forwards make up three really good scoring lines and a really good checking line.
Power forward Will McNamara is expected to be one of the offensive leaders, along with Chase Lang, Jordan Levesque, Garrett Dunlop and Corey Renwick. Jackson Robinson will crash the crease and Liam Shaw and David Osborne will get under opponents’ skin.
The defence corps isn’t huge, but it’s a well-rounded group that can move the puck, play physical and score from the point.
Team captain Quentin McShane leads the blueline corps along with Ryan Coghlan and Quinlan Moore.
Medves and Michael Herringer form the goaltending tandem.
Lemmon said he asks the Silvertips to create heavy puck pressure and backcheck hard.
“I expect our boys to put pucks on net, to stand in front of the net, to bang home rebounds and I expect communication all over the ice,” said the coach.
The BCMML includes many of the best 16-17-year-olds in the province and all of the best 15-year-olds.
“It’s a really fast game out there, it’s highly competitive and it’s a real physical game, so it’s entertaining to watch,” Lemmon said.
GAME ON … The Silvertips and Ice play tonight at 5:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. The teams then meet again for a rematch Sunday at 9 a.m. at the NIC.