Ten things you should know about the 2009-10 Mooseheads.
1. The Mooseheads have committed to rebuilding and recognize that losing will be a part of it. They’re going to play their young players, but head coach and general manager Cam Russell plans to make the kids earn their ice time.
2. The Mooseheads are sporting new-look jerseys, adopting the snug RBK Edge style that is reminiscent of the Minnesota Wild. Gone for this season are the black and white third jerseys with “Halifax” scripted across the front.
3. The Mooseheads are stuck in an absolutely brutal division and are going to have to find a way to beat powerhouse teams such as the Moncton Wildcats and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles if they want to find their way back to the playoffs. They lost 27 of 32 games against the Wildcats, Screaming Eagles, Saint John Sea Dogs and P.E.I. Rocket last season, and if that futility continues, the Herd is in trouble.
4. For years, the Mooseheads have boasted among the most Nova Scotians in the QMJHL. No more. There are only two: Halifax’s Gerrad Grant and Porters Lake’s Matthew Stoddard. But there are nine Quebecers and four New Brunswickers.
5. Tomas Knotek and Yuri Cheremetiev co-led the Mooseheads in scoring last season and should finish 1-2 again. But how much they score will dictate whether the Herd makes the playoffs.
6. There is no proven secondary scoring and somebody needs to help Knotek and Cheremetiev. Sophomores Gabriel Desjardins and Jessyko Bernard; veterans Linden Bahm and Matthew Stoddard; and rookie Brent Andrews are good bets.
7. The defence is young and mistakes will be made. The Mooseheads have four 17-year-olds to go along with the experience of veterans Pascal Amyot and Alexandre Brunet. But this group — Konrad Abeltshauser, Garrett Clarke, Steve Gillard and Sawyer Hannay — has great potential.
8. Russell says you build from the net out. But behind the inexperienced defence are two inexperienced goaltenders in sophomore Mathieu Corbeil and rookie Joel Grondin, and that combination will lead to some long nights.
9. Special teams are critical. A repeat of last season’s second-worst power play at 16.3 per cent and second-worst penalty kill at 75.4 per cent will leave this team out of the playoffs.
10. There are 12 new faces, including eight rookies. Russell hopes he finally has a lunch-pail team that plays gritty, old-time hockey, so expect to be entertained, even in losses.