“You don’t put the cart before the horse, and I’ve always been a guy who says, ‘let’s get better every day and let’s learn as we go,’” said Evans, head coach and general manager of the Truro Bearcats.
The Bearcats will begin to practice those principles Friday when they open defence of their Maritime Junior Hockey League title with a road game against the Yarmouth Mariners.
On Saturday, Truro plays its home opener against the St. Stephen Aces at the Rath-Eastlink Community Centre, beginning at 7 p.m.
The Bearcats enter the new season with a veteran defensive corps that includes five blueliners who were part of last year’s championship team. Up front, the lineup is dotted with eight new faces.
“We have some returning players that had some success last year, and, especially at forward, we have a lot of kids that have made training camp really fun,” said Evans. “I think the fans are going to see those new kids are coming in all shapes and sizes and are different types of players.”
Two of those new faces are local forwards Gavin Hart and Gavynn Carter.
Hart, a 16-year-old from Bible Hill, was a territorial selection of the Bearcats. He comes to the team after being a late cut by the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec major junior league.
“He’s a growing, young player that has a lot of potential,” said Evans. “He wants to be a hockey player, but at every level you’ve got to prove yourself and this is the next step from midget hockey and we’ll all be cheering for him in our community.”
Hart, five-foot-six, 165-pounds, scored 19 goals and added 21 helpers in 36 games last season with the Weeks Major Midgets.
Carter, an 18-year-old from Camden, was a pleasant surprise during training camp and made the team as a walk-on.
“He’s not going to skill anybody to death out there; he’s just an honest hockey player,” Evans said. “He came to camp in shape, he keeps his mouth shut and he shows up every day, and he’s going to get an opportunity.”
Carter played for Dartmouth Steele Subaru last season and had three goals and nine assists in 37 games.
Between the pipes, 20-year-old Kevin Resop, who played three seasons with the Mooseheads, will be the Bearcats’ starter.
“He comes with experience, he’s big, he’s calm and I can already see he’s a quiet leader in the dressing room,” Evans said. “I expect him to play good, solid goal. He doesn’t have to be our best player, he just has to contribute, and he’ll do that.”
Alec MacDonald, of Truro, will serve as the Bearcats backup goaltender.
“He’s still a young, improving goaltender, and it’s great that he’s a local boy,” said Evans. “He’s a great kid and he’s got a good guy to work with.”