Let’s get physical: Bruins are pushing towards the season

Published 7:32 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2018

As the Austin Bruins close in on their regular season, the team is working on getting a little tougher and a little meaner.

In Tuesday’s practice, Austin head coach Steve Howard had his team banging against the boards and fighting for pucks in an attempt to set the tone for what he hopes will be a very physical Bruins team this season.

Fans can get their first look at the Bruins when they host a preseason game against Janesville in Riverside Arena at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

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“We’re definitely bigger and we want to play with the same speed and pace as we did last year. We’ve got some big guys that can get in there,” Austin head coach Steve Howard said. “We’ve got some big boys that like to bang and a big part of our structure is being physical and being in your face. Hopefully guys figure out where to be and where not to be and they run with it.”

Bruin goalie Andrew Farah makes a stop on a shot in practice in Riverside Arena Tuesday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

The Bruins will look to Rayce Jacobs, who had 10 goals and eight assists for the Cleveland Barons U18 team last season, Hugh Larkin, who had eight goals and six assists for the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the BCHL last season, to lead the way up front. For leadership, Austin will look to veterans Lane Krenzen, Dante Zapata and Andy Willis to lead the way.

The veterans have been key early on for Austin as the team is likely to have 13 players back with experience under Howard.

“These first few practices we’re trying to implement our system and it’s a matter of teaching it. We’re a physical team and we need to be. We’re teaching the guys how to hit, how to hit and pin and how to break the puck out after we get it. That’s essential in our structure,” Howard said.

Last year, which was Howard’s first year as head coach, Austin had a lot less experience and the team took awhile to find its stride — losing its first six games of the season. The Bruins are hoping to start stronger this season.

“I’m hoping this year we don’t have to wait seven games for our first win,” Howard said. “We’ve got some guys that have been around his environment and our structure. I think those guys can figure things out and help some of the young guys.”

The Bruins will play a total of three home preseason games this season as the team will host Kenai River Sept. 11 and Austin will host the Minnesota Magicians Sept. 15. Both games will begin at 7:05 p.m.

“The fans will be able to come out and see what the new guys bring. Hopefully they’re impressed,” Howard said.

Austin will open its regular season when it hosts the Bismarck Bobcats at 7:05 p.m. on Sept. 28.

Austin Bruins head coach Steve Howard instructs his team in Riverside Arena Tuesday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com