Friday, September 14, 2012

Hounds ready to open MWJHL season

The ice is frozen and the nights are getting colder – time to drop the puck on the inaugural season of Hartland Hounds hockey in the Midwest Junior Hockey League.

As one of 10 teams in the first-year MWJHL, the Hounds are extremely optimistic that the roster they’ve created will be able to compete with any team on any given night this season.

“All the guys we recruited are guys with skill and character,” Hounds’ coach Randy Montrose said. “As we’ve watched all of them at our summer skates, training camp and practices, they are all learning their roles and how to play them accordingly. A lot of these kids have never played juniors before and while we may go through some growing pains, I’m confident that the older guys that have played juniors before will serve as mentors and help us get off to a fast start.”

Hartland starts its season tonight on the west side of the state with a two-game set against the Holland River Bandits.

“We had a good test last weekend against the University of Michigan-Dearborn (in an exhibition game) and several of our guys played very well,” Montrose said. “As a staff, we took note of what we needed to work on as a team and we did that this week in practice. If the effort and work ethic is there this weekend, I would expect us to be successful.”

Many of the Hounds’ players skated for Montrose, co-head coach Scott Gardiner and assistant coaches Marty Passino and Rick Gadwa in high school and several players have noted the instant chemistry right from the first summer skate.

“We had a fun camp (Aug. 3-4) and the guys really bonded and got to know each other,” said forward and Howell native P.J. Krystyniak. “We should have a good team. It’s basically the same fan base I’ve played for the last couple years and to play again for Randy will be pretty exciting, too.”

Fellow forward Jordan Ruterbusch is Hartland-born and is equally as excited for the puck to drop.

“Most of the guys on this team have either played against or with each other and I think we’ve looked good so far,” said Ruterbusch. “I think chemistry is important and it’s a good thing that everyone is getting along and bonding.”

The offense should be strong with Krystyniak, Cam Miglia (Brighton), Jake Henrikson (Commerce) and Jared Vincek (South Lyon) leading the charge, Max Biggings (Hartland) providing size and sandpaper, Darek Kalisz (Brighton) and Scott Augustyn (Howell) leading from the back end and goalies Andrew Brownlee (Fowlerville) and Colin Longeway (Pinckney) pushing one another for playing time.

“I think one thing that is very important is the number of local players we have,” said Montrose. “So many kids have to leave the state to play junior hockey and we feel that the opportunities we can provide for in-state players is really second to none.

“I’m excited to see how we match up with the rest of the league and to finally get this season underway.”

The Hounds will open their home season Sept. 28-29 at the Hartland Sports Center against the Michigan Ice Dogs and Dayton Aeros.

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