Wildcats begin season with Huron Shores Showcase

After a heartbreaking playoff loss to end last season, the Alpena High hockey team will begin its quest for a postseason return tonight.

The Wildcats will begin the 2017-18 season by hosting the Huron Shores Showcase today and Saturday. Alpena will play Grosse Pointe North around 7:30 p.m. tonight and will play Riverview Gabriel Richard at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

Gabriel Richard will play Freeland at 5 p.m. tonight and Freeland will play North at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

With a good deal of youth on their team, the Wildcats are aiming to use this weekend as a chance to build confidence and find chemistry on the ice.

“It’s about giving the young kids the confidence to keep playing. We’re going to make some mistakes, but let’s keep doing and let’s improve,” Alpena coach Chris Limback said. “It works out well for everybody because some downstate teams can come up and play some teams from the north.”

Tonight’s game also marks a return for Limback, who returns to Alpena’s bench for the first time since 2011.

Limback admits there might be some nerves, but he’s just as excited as his players for the season to begin.

“You don’t know (if you’ll be nervous) because it’s been so long, but I’ll probably have some nerves just like the players,” Limback said. “I’m hoping we come out, work hard and play strong.

Alpena went 18-8-2 last season and lost 2-1 in a regional final against Big Rapids. With a clean slate to start the year, the Wildcats will try to find line combinations that work well together. This year’s roster has just five seniors along with eight juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.

Junior Colby Plowman, who scored 28 points last season, is Alpena’s top returning scorer.

Senior Lars MacArthur (25 points in 2016-17) and junior Kyle VanDusen, who scored 15 points in 16 games, also return.

On the blue line, senior Nate Cosbitt returns along with juniors Owen Limback and Anthony Berg.

In goal, junior Cooper Black and sophomore Jimmy Bolanowski will get their first taste of varsity action this weekend.

“We’re constantly working together, seeing what we have,” Limback said. “It will be nice to see what they do.”