By Gerry Hale
The trade deadline for junior A hockey is Jan. 10.
From that point on, rosters are frozen. Teams must rely on those wearing their sweater and live with the choices made.
When the Canadian Junior Hockey League opened play in September, about 140 teams might have had their sights set on a spring visit to Summerside to participate in the Royal Bank Cup national championship. Time has dwindled that number as realism set in. Many of the early contenders became pretenders who will now play out their season, perhaps serving as spoilers at best.
It's a yearly process and those realistically in the hunt are now seeking the final pieces of the puzzle to give them the edge. For sure, the days leading up to the deadline provide interesting speculation.
Several of the MHL's top contenders got involved in roster tweaking a few weeks ago. Summerside, Woodstock and Truro all performed player transactions intended to improve their lot.
The Bearcats had an impressive first half but it was obvious the team needed additional grit. The acquisition of Grant West from the Campbellton Tigers helps address that need. The Bearcats gain a player with size and a willingness to play a physical game. This will benefit the team immediately as will his experience from the major junior ranks, including competing at the Memorial Cup.
Acquisitions at this time of year also mean departures. It's unfortunate but it comes with the territory and the best you can do is wish them well with their new placements.
The Bearcats get back to live action Saturday when they host the Woodstock Slammers for the first time this season.
Sunday, the Bearcats hit the road for an afternoon game in Summerside. The Capitals are leaving no stones unturned when it coms to adding talent.
Back-to-back matchups with two of the MHL's top teams shouldn't require any additional motivation for the Bearcats. All three teams may gain a greater insight of their relative position.
The January schedule will be a demanding one for Truro with seven of their 11 games on the road. There won't be an easy one in the mix.
Hockey fans should enjoy the level of competition which lies ahead. Each game should provide playoff flavor and is best witnessed live.
Gerry Hale is media relations co-ordinator for the Truro Bearcats junior A hockey club