Shawn Germain is continuing on as the head coach of the St. Paul Jr. B Canadiens in 2021-2022, and excited to keep building the hockey program through an open try out for the team this fall.

“Two years ago was a big step forward and then we felt like we made another step forward with some of the recruiting that we did and the start that we had. Obviously that got cut short, but I think I can speak for everybody when I say we feel like we have a little bit of finished business,” said Germain.

According to Germain, six or seven previous players are going on to play at higher levels next year, so there are only about 12 or 13 who are committed to coming back to play next season.

He said having that many open spaces on the roster does make it more challenging for the team in terms of recruitment but they’re still very proud of the success of their alumni.

“Obviously Brad Mistol has had some early success with the Pontiacs. Wherever he ends up we’re absolutely thrilled for him, because that’s what we want is this program to become something that feeds the higher levels,” said Germain.

According to Germain, plans are already being made to run hockey schools in the fall in St. Paul, Saddle Lake, and a number of other smaller communities in the area if there’s interest.

“Last year we did kind of an invite only type, but we’re going to go pretty open this year because I feel like there’s a lot of kids that may have fallen through the cracks because they lost a year. So we’d like to open that up a little bit, give kids an opportunity to come up and show us what they got,” said Germain.

Minor hockey was unable to have their season in 2020-2021 because of COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta. While restrictions were at one point eased enough that they could have practices, teams were limited to 10 people on the ice at a time and didn’t get to play against any other teams. The Canadiens had their season cut short following a home and away pair of 6-2 wins over the Vermilion Tigers in October.

According  to the league’s rules, they can have up to two 16-year-olds on the team and four 21-year-olds, but the anyone who is 21 has to have played with the team during the previous season.

“And that’s just so you can’t stack the team with four guys that played junior the year before,” said Germain.

He said Tysne Stanski, Zandro Luck-Palliotto, and Janson Pashniak will be the oldest players on the team.

According to Germain, a lot is still wait and see and dependent on what happens with the COVID-19 variants and the province’s vaccination program.

“You’re going to have the group of kids that really found that they missed it a lot and they’re going to have that itch really bad coming back next year. I know as a former player, whenever September rolled around I always got that itch to want to play again. I still get that itch from time to time. So I think if anything, it might make some guys hungrier and really prepare for next season,” said Germain.

He added he’s also not sure how practical a 10-player session will be for the team and would much rather get together with everyone when they can all be together again.