PLATTSBURGH — Let the games begin.
The Champlain Valley Elite Junior A hockey team opens its summer season this weekend at the Hartford Showcase in Hartford, Conn.
The Elite Junior A will be one of seven teams taking part in the event, which begins tonight and runs until Sunday afternoon.
“It’s an exciting time for the coaching staff,” said Elite head coach/general manager Justin Frechette. “A lot of planning and work goes into this before we play a game. Now, it’s time to play.
“We have a fresh look on the team this year with 16 new faces. We’ve had a good training camp this week and have no injuries.
“We’ve been skating twice a day and the character and chemistry on the team is the best we have ever had. It’s going to be fun to watch these guys play.”
The Elite Junior A open play in the tournament tonight at 7:30 p.m. against the Hackettstown Americans.
Then, on Saturday, the Elite tangle with the Brewster Bulldogs at 8 a.m. and against the Northern Connecticut Wings at 2 p.m.
The semifinals and championship game are set for Sunday.
“The top four teams make it to Sunday and the other three go home,” Frechette said. “Games will consist of two 25-minute halves like they have at the Chowder Cup.”
Wins are worth two points, a tie one point and a loss no points.
“We need our players to trust in each other and our system,” Frechette said. “We’re looking to continue the winning tradition we have going.”
The Elite Junior A, in its history, has won 94 percent of its games.
Champlain Valley’s A team has lost only three games total, including one in the Chowder Cup quarterfinals and two in the finals of the annual event.
“It’s hard because all of the players are go-to guys on their teams,” Frechette said. “Now, they all have to play as a team. The better our team, the more personal accolades the players will get.
“This is our first game together and the other teams we will be playing have been skating together since the winter.”
Frechette will bring all 21 Elite Junior A players on the trip, as well as Kyle Tetreault, a member of the Elite’s Junior B Black Major team, who will be the team’s alternate.
Team captains for the Elite Junior A include Kyle Taylor, from St. Albans, Vt., Ryan Durocher, from Canton, Mark Williams, from Potsdam, and Andrew Mather, from Nepean, Ont.
“Alex Archibald is also a team captain, but he can’t wear a C being a goaltender,” Frechette said. “But, he’s a team leader as well.”
The Hartford Showcase will be one of three summer tournaments for the Elite Junior A. Champlain Valley will host the Applebee’s Summer Shootout on July 20-22 at the Lake City Stars Arena before taking part in the Chowder Cup August 2-5 in Boston.
“The Chowder Cup is what we build for,” Frechette said. “Our goal this year is to go undefeated.”
Former National Hockey League star Ray Bourque’s son is a member of the Cushing Academy alumni team that is also competing this weekend.
The Elite Junior A is dedicating its 2007 season to Frechette’s sister, Stacey, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident on February 24.
More information on all three Champlain Valley Elite teams can be found by visiting the program’s website, at cvelite.com.
Junior A schedule
Champlain Valley Elite vs. Hackettstown Americans, 7:30 p.m.
Champlain Valley Elite vs. Brewster Bulldogs, 8 a.m.
Champlain Valley Elite vs. Northern Connecticut Wings, 2 p.m.
Semifinals, 8 and 10 a.m.
Championship, 2:30 p.m.
PLATTSBURGH — Let the games begin.
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