Coach Dave Preston was in Turkey just a month and a half ago, where he coached the Canadian Junior National Team to a 12th place finish, right behind the USA team. Now, he finds himself getting ready to hop on a plane to the confines of Calgary, Alta., to face some fierce Canada West competition for the Dino Cup in the Jacks Simpson Stadium at the University of Calgary.
The team will get their start on Oct. 18, and for Coach Preston, the tournament will serve as practice for the core elements that the team will develop over time
“We could go three-and-oh, we could go oh-and-three, the difference in our performance for this might be minimum just because the competition is very, very good,” said Preston.
The competition in the Canada West Conference is so dominant, six out of the top ten teams in the CIS top ten rankings are from the west.
With this in mind, Preston is sure to concentrate more on the process of fine-tuning, and improving each game, than on the outcome of the matches or the tournament.
“We’re going to focus on our performance instead of our results… if we take care of our performances out there, then the wins will take care of themselves,” added Preston.
The focus on performance that Preston speaks of was especially present in the Marauders first preseason game against Western, where they managed to hold them off, and pull out an encouraging comeback late in the game.
The Marauders ability to regroup under pressure and remain collected to pull off the win was what Preston attributed to the overall character of his strong team.
“The thing I was most pleased about was their character; we were up two-zero, kind of got a little bit sidetracked, kind of lost our way…[we were] down in the fifth as well and still had the character to come and close it out. So that, that was refreshing. That was nice to see,” added Preston on the win.
The Marauders will try to carry their character over to Calgary this weekend, where they will be up against the Calgary Dinos, the Alberta Golden Bears, and the Trinity Western Spartans. Two of those teams – the Golden Bears and the Spartans, are ranked first and second respectively in the current CIS top ten rankings, while McMaster is ranked third.
Although the tournament is miles away, Coach Preston stresses that they will be using the tournament as a useful and educational stepping stone for the rest of the season.
For him, there are a couple of major advantages of going out west to play in such a competitive pre-season tournament.
“One of the things I think we do pretty well is information gathering; so I think we’re going to be able to get some good information on some teams that we don’t see very often,” said Preston.
“It’s going to give us a chance to do and try some things against teams that aren’t in our league all the time. So we don’t have to concern ourselves too much about someone getting too familiar with us to know what we’re doing.”
Another major advantage of going to the tournament in Calgary is the venue of the Jacks Simpson Stadium, which will be hosting the 2014 CIS Championships – a championship tournament that the Marauders will hope to compete in come February
“We get to play three matches in that gym, getting used to that environment, getting used to all the other stuff that comes along with the CIS Championship, that we won’t have to do for the first time, if we’re fortunate enough to get there” added Preston.
This is not just any trip for the Marauders; it is a trip of observation and note-taking for the team, as they will hope to come back to Calgary once again in a couple of months to fight for a national title.
“We’re not just taking the trip, we’re going to where we would like to go to again… so, this is a reconnaissance trip, we’re going in to do some recon, and see exactly what it’s going to take, and get very, very familiar with everybody.”
The Marauders will start getting very familiar with the west coast on Friday Oct. 18, when they take on the Calgary Dinos at 7:30 p.m.