TRURO - One game at a time.
It's probably the oldest cliché in sports, but it's a philosophy the Truro Bearcats are hoping works for them this season, arguably the biggest in the club's 15-year history with the opening of the Central Nova Scotia Civic Centre and hosting the Fred Page Cup this spring.
"We definitely need to take it one game at a time," said veteran forward Dylan McGuigan. "A lot can happen over the season and we need to stay focused to get every win we can."
Both of those major events could provide plenty of distraction for the club and the Bearcats don't feel like backing into the Eastern Canadian championship playing scatter-brained hockey. Instead, they want to celebrate the opening of their shiny, new arena with a tournament victory.
"We don't want to be there because we're the hosts," McGuigan, a Gaspereaux, P.E.I., native, said. "We want to be there because we deserve it."
So that means concentrating on the immediate task at hand and not looking too far ahead. Their strategy will be tested early, as they open with four games on the road starting Friday in Campbellton. They travel to Miramichi to lock horns with the Timberwolves Saturday. Truro doesn't play on Colchester Legion Stadium ice until Sept. 29.
"We're starting on the road, which is even harder," McGuigan said. "But we want to get started on the right foot and come home with some momentum and build off of that for the rest of the year."
That's been something the Bearcats have struggled to find early in the season for the past few campaigns. An inconsistent Bearcats squad was lagging near the bottom of the Bent Division at the Christmas break a year ago before winning 10 of their next 12 games to lift themselves back into the playoff race.
Truro finished the regular season third in the division at 29-20-1-2 (W-L-OL-SL) and fell in the division semifinal to the Amherst Ramblers in the playoffs.
So Game 1 of 52 is all the Hubtown squad is worried about right now, just how coach Shawn Evans wants it.
"We see the big picture for our season and there's a lot that comes with it, a lot of pressure comes with it," Evans said. "I haven't even talked about (the Fred Page) with the players at this point.
That's not to say he feels the players shouldn't be excited about what's on the horizon. But Evans knows his players will be better prepared and in a better spot by focusing on what's in front of them first.
"It's going to be an exciting season," he said. "I want the players to enjoy this season. They deserve this opportunity but it's not going to be easy, nor should it be."
NOTES: Evans made some adjustments to the roster prior to the start of the regular season, letting go of forward Adam Fraser, who collected nine points (4G, 5A) in 27 regular season games last year with the team.
In spite of already having a year with the club under his belt, Fraser missed much of training camp with a hamstring injury, the same setback that also kept him out of camp last year.
Evans also sent Jordan Wentzell and Alex Anthony back to major midget Dartmouth and Derek Andrews back to the junior B ranks in Okanagan.