With eight open spots available, competition was fierce at the Grizzlies main camp last weekend.
40 players took part in the camp – some of whom paid $100 for the privilege. Some were returning players from last year, others were looking to get in some hockey before heading off to Junior A camps, while more were looking to impress head coach Kevin Kraus and get invited to training camp at the end of the month.
“I think it’s gone real well. We had 40 kids show up on Friday for fitness testing and had a real good showing for that,” said coach and general manager Kevin Kraus. “I had them run in the heat – it was a little funny, the kids were dying out there.”
There were eight returning players from last season’s team that won its division before being upset in the first round by Sicamous. They were goaltender Conrad McMillan, defencemen Adam Pulliam, Tyler Bolduc and Braden Seyl; and forwards Kent Hendrickson, Riley Creighton, TJ Christensen and Tyler Reay.
Several local youth were also on the ice looking to earn a spot on the team. Brodie Buhler and Eric Austin, who played several games as injury call-ups last year, were there, as were Chevy Hantula and Cody Hendrickson. Louie Federico, 15, was also skating, though he is too young to play on the team.
Kraus said none of them were guaranteed a spot. “If I have a local that wants to compete and play for me and make this team, then definitely,” he said. “You don’t want to give them a free pass and think they’re on the team automatically because then they get lazy.”
The rest of the try-outs consisted of a mix of kids Kraus recruited at hockey showcases, the Grizzlies’ spring camp, and players recommended by returning veterans and his associates in the hockey world.
“In the recruiting world you get as much help as you can and try and get people to send you players,” said Kraus.
His goal, he said, was to have two full teams on the ice and to create a competitive camp where everyone would work hard. “I wanted to bring in two full teams that had kids who compete in a Junior B rink and I feel like I succeeded in that way.”
On Saturday the players were divided up into two groups for a mixture of workouts and scrimmages.
On Sunday, they were again split up for the “All-Star” game. Team Yellow beat Team White 8-2, behind a five-goal first period outburst. Afterwards the players lined up outside the coach’s office for their exit interviews and to learn their fate. Kraus declined to name who made the cut.
Kraus said he felt he’d achieved his goal of having a competitive camp. “Everyone’s been competing for a few days and I’m sure their getting tired. I had a few kids get some injuries. That’s a good sign – at least they’re playing hard.”
Over the next few weeks he will be attending Junior A camps, looking to recruit late cuts there. Players that made the cut will be back in Revelstoke just before the Labour Day weekend with the goal of making the team.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies are holding a town hall meeting at the community centre this Thursday from 7-8 p.m. to discuss the upcoming hockey season and promote season ticket sales.