TRURO - Jeff Hazelton is typically pretty good at taking stock of his team's talent.
But this fall is a bit of a mystery to the Cobequid Cougars boys hockey coach. The roster has undergone plenty of change since the Cougars skated at provincials last spring, leaving Hazelton unsure of exactly what he's got at his disposal this season.
But don't count on catching the coach chewing his nails in distress over it.
"That's the most exciting part," Hazelton said. "I want to get on the ice and see what we've got."
Sure, Hazelton has an inkling of what his team has to offer, having been on the ice for several tryouts and practices. But until the players are game tested, a coach can never be sure.
Cobequid opens its season tonight when it travels to New Glasgow to take on the North Nova Gryphons for an 8 p.m. puck drop.
The Cougars' home opener is scheduled for Sunday when the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Royals visit Colchester Legion Stadium at 7 p.m.
What the Cougars look to have is a strong defence. In the net will be a pair of new goaltenders in Sebastien Gibson and Devon Holley. Zach Gate and Ben Porter are the only returning blueliners, but will be joined by strong talents such as Bryan Grue and Cole Allaby.
A strong back end will come in handy if the Cougars hope to improve on their semifinal appearance at the provincial championship last spring. They were knocked out by eventual champion Millwood.
"That's our goal, is to get back there," Hazelton said. "We want to win the regional championship again and make provincials and from what I see I think we've got a good chance to do that."
But it will require a solid start to the season to get the ball rolling early. That means the Cougars will be looking for success this weekend.
"We need to start going right away," Hazelton said. "It lets the players gain confidence and know they can play here and then we just have to keep improving and make sure we're ready come provincial time."
Cobequid Cougars boys hockey 2012-13
Devon Holley 12
Sebastian Gibson 11
Bryan Grue 12
Ben Porter 11
Zach Gate 12
Cole Allaby 11
Tom Faulkner 10
Drew Smith 12
Rylie Sellers 11
Matt Laing 11
Kylar Frank 11
Richard MacNevin 11
Austin Wheeler 11
Patrick McNutt 12
Thomas Little 12
Bradley Gallant 10
Liam McCully 12
Brady Davis 10
Michael Kennedy 12
Tyler Lynds 12
Manager - Steve Bentley