It was pretty obvious the players don’t know each other too well yet when the puck dropped on the high school boys hockey season on Tuesday.
Defencemen were a bit unorganized, lines didn’t show much chemistry and there was some rust evident on the goaltenders.
But Brantford Collegiate Institute Mustangs coach Gary Waud said that will change quickly now that the teams play games almost every Tuesday and Thursday.
“We saw a lot of things we have to work on,” Waud said after his Mustangs skated to a 4-4 draw with the St. John’s College Green Eagles at the civic centre. “But I expect when the season is over we will all be different teams.”
The Mustangs return as defending champions of the Brant league.
“We have nine returning players,” Waud said. “Of the new players we see a lot of opportunities and prospects.”
Connor Merritt and Lane VanEvery gave the Mustangs a 2-0 lead after the first period against the Green Eagles, but penalty trouble allowed the Green Eagles to storm all the way back and then some.
Tyler Nagy sandwiched a pair of goals around one by Matt Waring to give St. John’s the 3-2 lead.
But Lane VanEvery notched his second of the game with a weak shot from the blue line that found a hole, tying things back up 3-3 before the end of the second period.
The Green Eagles’ David Biro and the Mustangs’ Preston VanEvery would trade goals to make the final 4-4.
Matt Martinow is in his first year coaching high school hockey as a new teacher at St. John’s College.
He said he was approached to take over the reins because of his experience playing junior hockey growing up.
Martinow liked what he saw from the Green Eagles in their first game this season.
“We showed signs of good things to come,” he said. “The penalties and lack of discipline at times were a bit concerning, but it was the first game and we have a lot to improve on.”
In the other contest on Tuesday at the civic centre, the Paris District High School Panthers opened the season with a 2-0 shutout of the Pauline Johnson Collegiate Thunderbirds.
The Assumption Lions and North Park Trojans will begin their seasons on Thursday at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre when they play each other at 3 p.m. The other game features the Green Eagles and T-Birds at 4 p.m.