Rideaus open regular season Saturday

The Westport Rideaus open their inaugural National Capital Jr. Hockey League season this Saturday at a league showcase in Gatineau where all 10 teams will play.
Westport opens against Vankleek Hill in a day where the league’s 10 teams meet in five games.
The Rideaus are on the road for the next three games after that, before opening at home Fri., Oct. 7.
The team dropped three exhibition games on the weekend but Head Coach Steve Merkley sees a lot of positives.
“They are all keen and eager to listen so it makes it enjoyable – we all see that.
“It is going to take some time and there will be a learning curve to start the year.
“Players need to get used to the speed and timing of the game,” Merkley said.
Westport lost 5-3 in Almonte Friday and dropped a 6-2 decision to the same team in Westport Saturday.
South Grenville beat them 9-1 in an exhibition game Sunday in Cardinal.
“South Grenville had their full roster and we had six players who are going back to play midget.
“When we get our overage guys back in the line-up, we will be competitive with them but they will be one of the league’s top teams, “ said Merkley, adding that they have three or four of the best defense-men from Jr. B and Jr. C last season.
Westport was competitive with Almonte but didn’t catch many breaks.
“On Friday, they scored three quick ones early and I think it was just the nerves of the kids.
“We settled in and outplayed them in the second,” he said.
“From the 10 or 15 minute mark we were better than them,” he said.
Almonte added an empty-net goal to win 5-3.
“The next night it was 2-2 and we outplayed them by a substantial margin, and then they scored three times on three mistakes.
That will be the thing, avoiding mistakes,” Merkley said.
“We knew it was going be a building process but we might have 10 or so local kids in the line-up.
“I am pleasantly surprised by some of the local players,”he said.
“(GM) Jeff (Snow) and I know there is going to be some coaching to do but they are willing to listen and it has been positive already.

“They are going to work hard because we will have to,” he said.