With only 40 players attending, there was lots of ice time available for the players battling it out at the Revelstoke Grizzlies main camp at the arena last weekend.
“I was very pleased with the camp,” said head coach and general manager Randy Quakenbush Sunday evening. “I was a little nervous at the beginning but it proved out to be worthwhile but the situations that we needed to be addressed were addressed. We got a few good players coming out of it, for sure.”
The camp featured a mix of veterans and rookies. Some players, such as Brendan Burge, Trevor Esau and Rylie Spraggs– all former Grizzlies – are Junior A bound and were using the camp as a way to get ready for the upcoming season.
Most though, were looking to make their mark in order to secure a spot on the team as it moves forward to the training camp starting Sept. 3.
Quakenbush said the veterans provide a level of skill, work ethic and familiarity with the camp that helps out the new players.
“They become the pace horse which helps the players that are actually in the race,” he said.
The camp started Friday with physical tests. Players were put through a bench press test, 100 metre sprints on the track and a one mile run.
Then they hit the ice for an intense four-on-four mini-tournament that Quakenbush said really gave the players a physical test as some of them were on the ice for the entirety of eight periods of play.
Saturday saw the players play two full games, with practice sessions mixed in. On Sunday, the teams were divided up once again for the camp All Star Game that afternoon.
The game was a close affair for the first two periods. It was 1-0 Team Blue over Team White after the first period and 3-1 after the second.
It wasn’t until the final frame that the game was blown open. Braden Martin, an 18-year-old hopeful, scored a hat-trick to help lead Team Blue to an 8-2 victory over Team White.
There were two fights in the game. First, local Riley Creighton took on big returning defenceman Adam Dibella. Then, Derek Hascarl battled it out with Brendan Burge – who is more known for his soft hands than his fisticuffs.
More players were expected to attend the camp than did but Quakenbush said the smaller size meant they were able to watch the players through adversity of lots of ice time.
“We also had a chance to see some good intensity because it was a very skilled camp,” he said.
When asked who stood out, Quakenbush declined to give names but said some players surprised him.
“There were some guys that were not on our radar that came up and made us go ‘Wow!’ he said. “But it’s early for them and this camp is step one – it’s the door that opens to the real competition.”
The players that made the cut will reconvene with some veterans from training camp on Sept. 3. The players will practice twice daily until school starts on Sept. 6. The team’s first of five exhibition games is Sept. 7 in Kamloops.
The final roster will be solidified as players get cut from Junior A camps. Quakenbush hopes to have a final roster set on Sept. 11. The regular season begins Sept. 16.