By Craig Stein
O’BRIEN TAKES PROMOTION AFTER CASSAN LANDS IN WHL
The Yorkton Terriers are entering year three of a rebuild that started after capturing their second straight Canalta Cup and first ever RBC Cup in 2014, and they appear poised to take another step in the right direction, but they’ll have to do so with a new Head Coach & General Manager.
In early September, Trent Cassan accepted an Assistant Coach position with the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen after 8 seasons in Yorkton, which included 6 plus as Head Coach, where the Terriers went to the league final four times and won it twice.
Casey O’Brien, who’s entering year six with the club, got the promotion from Assistant Coach, to Head Coach & GM, a change that occurred near the end of the Pre Season schedule.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, trying to get my feet wet and get the guys organized and ready to go, but it’s exciting,” mentioned O’Brien just prior to the start of the regular season. If it wasn’t for Trent I wouldn’t feel as comfortable as I do taking this position. He gave me leeway and helped me grow as a coach.”
“It was an amazing five years with Trent and as an organization we had a lot of success. I’m excited for him and that’s what our league is all about. We saw Dean Brockman (Humboldt) go to the Saskatoon Blades a few years ago and get promoted to Head Coach this season, and he hired Bryce Thoma (Weyburn) as one of his Assistants, and now with Trent going to Calgary it shows the quality of coaches we have in this league.”
The youngest team in the league a year ago, will still be one of the league’s youngest in 2016-2017, but with core players now a year older, there’s reason for optimism. The club missed the playoffs in 2014-2015, and snuck into the post-season a year ago, grabbing the 10th and final position, before being ousted in three straight by La Ronge in the Wild Card series, by a combined score of 21-4.
1999-born twin brothers Carson & McKenzie Welke are confirmed to be back in the fold after they no doubt had options to look at the Western Hockey League route. McKenzie led the Terriers with 42 points as a 16-year-old, including 20 goals, while Carson’s points-per-game was actually slightly higher, with 35-points in 44-games.
Brandon Sookro returns for his 20-year-old season after potting a team-high 25 goals a year ago, while other returnees up front a year older include Corwin Stevely, Jordan McCausland and Shane Sherban.
Regan Seiferling and Tyler Baier will anchor what should be a solid blue line, and Jakob Severson returns in goal.
Five year forward Kailum Gervais was the only graduating player from last year’s club, while notably absent this year will be goaltender Matt Kustra, forward Adam Santoro and defenseman Devin Gerwing, who’ve all elected to pursue their education and forego their junior eligibility. Forwards Jordan Ross (Prince George) and Chance Petruic (Moose Jaw) will both start the year in camp in the Western Hockey League.