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Rangers open preseason schedule, showing improvement


The Parkland Rangers U18 AAA hockey team got its first taste of preseason hockey this past weekend with a home-and-home against the Yorkton Secon Maulers.
Yorkton swept the twinbill, taking the first game, 6-2, Friday in Yorkton, before completing the sweep with a 5-4 win, Saturday in Dauphin.
Steve Arp and Jayce Legaarden had the Parkland goals, Friday, while Riley Zdan, Kevin Chrisp, Landyn Brasch and Garrett Hrechka scored in Saturday’s game.
Keaton Ziprick and Owen Church split netminding duties on Saturday.
Rangers head coach Arnie Caplan said jitters were a factor in the slow start to Friday’s game.
“I think we were really nervous and it was tough for some guys to get into that game. It took a while. And I think a lot of guys played a little shaky hockey,” he said.
It was a different story, Saturday.
Caplan liked the way the Rangers battled back after falling behind and showed some resiliency.
“I saw some better performances from guys all-around. I think our entire roster, everybody contributed one way or another and played better. So I was pleased with the resilience and the work ethic tonight,” he said.
The Rangers have been practicing since hosting training camp in late August. There was a break to allow players to attend junior A camps. The focus in practice has been on the fundamentals.
“Making sure guys can play with speed. A lot of the passing, puck handling, shooting, things like that. Now we’re focusing a little bit more on our team tactics and systems,” Caplan said.
That will continue this week as the team prepares for the Southwest Cougars’ annual preseason tournament, Sept. 13 to 15, in Souris.
Parkland will play three games, beginning, Saturday against the host Cougars at 3:30 p.m.
They will play two games on Sunday, the first being at 10:30 a.m. against the Central Plains Capitals, before ending the weekend with a 3:30 p.m. tilt against the Yellowhead Chiefs.
“As we head towards next weekend, we’ve got to start really horning in on more areas. We’re trying to work from the defensive zone out. That the way I like to do it,” he said.
“So we’re going to focus a little more on our team structure and where everybody fits into that structure.”
At this point, Caplan is pleased with the progress the team is making.
“I like what I’ve seen. I think the way we responded from (Friday) night’s game. I thought we looked a lot sharper tonight and I liked the work ethic for the most part.”
Caplan hopes to see that progress continue in Souris.
“The wins and losses, it’s preseason, they really don’t mean anything, although your goal is to win every game. I’d like to see more progress,” he said.
“The entire 200-foot sheet. I want to see progress all over the ice and I want to see guys get more comfortable and learning more about what it takes to play at this level and be successful.”
The Rangers open the season, Sept. 27, when they host the Winnipeg Thrashers at 7:30 p.m. in Dauphin.

Doug Zywina