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Examiner
  • Camp helps Mavs coach prepare for season

  • Scott Hillman is doing his best to unwind and relax this week as he spends some vacation time with his family near Odessa, Texas, where he was an all-star defenseman with the now-defunct Odessa Jackalopes.

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  • Scott Hillman is doing his best to unwind and relax this week as he spends some vacation time with his family near Odessa, Texas, where he was an all-star defenseman with the now-defunct Odessa Jackalopes.
    The vacation follows a seven-day trip to Nisswa, Minn., where he took part in the Minnesota Hockey Camp, a professional camp that attracts amateur and professional players, coaches and scouts.
    “The Minnesota camp is so important to me and our team,” said Hillman, who managed to get away from his young sons Corbin and Gunhar long enough for a quick telephone interview. “Directly, or indirectly, we have found out about so many players who have been on our roster at the Minnesota Camp.
    “And being around so many coaches helps me improve in all aspects of coaching. Whether you are scouting a player or developing your strategy, you can find a wealth of information there. It helps me grow as a coach, it really does.”
    As Hillman talked about the upcoming Central Hockey League season, he paused for a moment when mentioning that it will be season No. 5 for the Mavericks.
    “Five seasons,” he said, chuckling, “where has the time gone? I think it’s interesting that we are getting to the point now where we are an established team that can bring back the core of players who have made us successful.”
    That’s why the team signed four veterans – reigning CHL scoring leader and MVP Sebastien Thinel, stalwart defenseman Dave Pszenyczny and forwards John-Scott Dickson and Andrew Courtney – two weeks ago.
    “We believe a mix of players like the ones we just signed are essential to our success,” Hillman said. “This will be the third year (at Missouri) for all of them, and they are not only good players, but good people who are important to our community.”
    While the veterans can make a difference, Hillman has some big holes to fill in the lineup as youngsters like scoring sensations Kenton Miller (who set a single-season record with 30 goals) and Kellan Tochkin (who led the CHL in postseason scoring with 18 points up to the point the Mavericks were eliminated by Allen in the semifinals) and goaltenders Mike Clemente (who has signed with Evansville of the East Coast Hockey League) and Mathieu Corbeil will not return this season .
    “For two years in a row, we made it to Game 7 of the semifinals and could not find a way to get into the championship series,” Hillman said. “We built our team last year for the playoffs, and we came close. But close is not good enough – especially when it happens two years in a row.
    “We need to find two goalies and we need to replace a lot of offense, but Brent (Thiessen, the team president and general manager) believes we can go do that. We might not find two 21-year-olds to replace Miller and Tochkin and we might find one or two veteran goalies to replace Clemente and Corbeil.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Those are decisions we still need to make. But from Day 1, we are going to be looking for the right mix of players, the right dynamics, to help us take that next step in the postseason. We need to find top players like the four we signed, but we also need the role players who are willing to do whatever it takes to be the best team in the CHL.”
     
     
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