By Mike Stackhouse
The Melfort Mustangs aren’t backing down after winning two straight Canalta Cups. Head Coach/General Manager Trevor Blevins says it’s not necessary to strip down. “I think it’s been an exciting two years and we will take the approach of let’s see what happens. That’s what we did last year. Everyone is excited about this group. Our veterans have come back in great shape and with the right attitude. They all want to do it again. As a coach, I like to see when all they talk about is going for three and it makes it fun for me to come to the rink.”
“As far as building a program, the players are the ones who decide. Last year in camp, we had question marks as to whether or not we could do it a second time. Our start to the season and where we fit in the standings will be the key. We evaluate continually and last year after the first month or two we decided we had the pieces and pushed forward. We will do the same thing this year. Our mindset is that we will have another successful season. It doesn’t matter what kind of team or personnel you have. We want to keep the tradition going. Whether that means you are a champion every year or whether you are competitive is up to the players. The goal is success in the program year by year with team goals as well as individual player goals.”
Blevins, who’s entering his third full season as the man in charge, finds himself as one of the more senior coaches in the league as there has been a great deal of turnover behind a number of benches in the SJHL. That doesn’t necessarily mean he carries a bigger voice amongst his peers. “I haven’t thought too much about it. I just know I’m well rooted in Melfort and this is home for me. I plan to be here for quite some time. I know there are a lot of great people in the league and it’s fantastic that we’ve developed so many coaches and have had them move on and succeed. I can’t say enough for what the league does to prepare you for that next step as a coach. Overall in the group, all of our coaches are treated equally and are well respected by each other and we all have a chance to have a voice.”
Blueliner Eric Sinclair, the SJHL’s Defenseman Of The Year, may be the most recognizable name returning. Blevins says, “We are trying to solidify his hockey future after the SJHL and working towards his educational goals.” Dakota Boutin has a commitment to Northern Michigan for next Septmber and Blevins has identifited Boutin as one of the most exciting players in the league to watch for fans. Goaltender Evan Plotnik, thrust into duty in the opening round of the playoffs last year when injury struck starter Richard Palmer, is back to take over full-time from Palmer as the number one netminder, giving the Mustangs confidence they are in good hands despite his short track record in the regular season.