Had Covid-19 not ruined what would have been the Alberta Junior Hockey League playoffs this past March, Jack Works may have shown the hockey world just how good he was in the clutch.
No matter though, because he has another chance to prove that the regular season he had was no fluke.
Works is back with the Okotoks Oilers for another campaign and comes into camp as the team’s reigning scoring champion. The 19-year-old put up 43 goals and 49 assists for 92 points last season in what could only be described as a breakout for the Yellowknife product.
Works reported for camp with the rest of his teammates on Aug. 31 and he said from what he sees, it should be a deep run for the Oilers, so long as everything co-operates.
“Almost all of our team is back again and we have a few new guys this season,” he said. “We have a chance to go far this season with the team we have and I think we can do a lot of great things.”
Like every other team in the AJHL, training camp is an exercise in abiding by rules to try and mitigate the spread of Covid-19. The players wear masks when walking into the arena but the dressing room is the bubble and they can remove the masks upon entering.
“All of the guys in the Calgary area have been hanging out with each other and no one was allowed to be around us outside of the bubble,” said Works.
As mentioned, Works was the star of the show for the Oilers last season and he’s hoping that continues once the season begins, the date of which has yet to be announced by the AJHL.
He said he’s not worried about numbers nor is there any pressure to replicate last season.
“Once I’m in the game, I’m just out there playing,” he said. “I’m not even thinking about last season because that’s in the past. I just want to work on getting better and being ready to go right from the start.”
The AJHL’s pre-season gets underway this Friday with teams being paired off under restrictions as laid out by the Alberta government. Okotoks will play its series of exhibition games against the Brooks Bandits with the first home-and-home series starting Friday in Brooks, followed by the return match-up the next night in Okotoks. They will play two more home-and-home sets on the next two consecutive weekends.
The Bandits are always a strong team and Works said even though it’s a new season, it’s a chance to throw down the gauntlet early.
“It’s always good hockey when we play each other and we didn’t get the chance to play them last year in the playoffs,” he said. “I think we could’ve beat them.”
Whether fans will be allowed in the stands is still yet to be determined as the Pason Centennial Arena, the Oilers’ home barn, haven’t yet set capacity or distancing guidelines.
“The government makes the call on that but I’ve heard we could be allowed up to 100 (people) per game,” said Works. “We’re just waiting to see what happens. That’s all we can do.”