You could tell right from the first minutes of camp this will be a turnaround year for the Revelstoke Grizzlies. Unlike last year where the opening scrimmage of camp looked like a glorified game of shinny for the Revelstoke Bantam squad, this looked like a Junior B camp.
There was organization and intensity — it was a welcome improvement over last year when the team didn’t have a coach until the start of camp.
“I think the turnout was what we expected and the camp quality was good,” said coach Ryan Parent. “Obviously we want to go in a younger direction this year and have players who have the potential to move on.”
Forty players attended the camp last weekend — 17 skaters and three goalies on each side. Only a few players returned from last year’s roster — goaltender Matthew Mitchell, defencemen Kenny Batke and Tre Mason, and forwards Connor Butte-Landesfried, Cody Hendrickson, Tristan Sailor and Chad Thomas.
For the most part, it was a brand new slate of players, some from as far away as Florida — their parents eagerly watching from the stands. There were lots of players with cages, a sign of a young roster.
When it all wrapped up on Sunday, 26 players remained in Revelstoke. “That will revolve a little bit,” said Parent. “We’ve got players now coming down from Junior A camps, so our numbers will fluctuate a little bit. And some players are at camps right now, and so on.”
When asked about any stand-outs, or any sure bets to make the team, Parent wouldn’t name names. He did mention the play of Louie Federico, a local boy looking to earn a spot on the roster who Parent called “the biggest surprise at camp.”
“He came out of nowhere and really invested himself and wants to earn a spot,” he said. “For me that’s ideal.”
This week the remaining players are taking part in Grizzlies hockey school, where the players will enjoy a week of intense coaching in partnership with Revelstoke Minor Hockey.
The roster is far from being set. Many players will be trying out for Junior A teams; if they get cut, they’ll come back to Revelstoke to earn a spot here.
The opening exhibition game is on Tuesday, Sept. 2, against the Rockets in Golden, the first of six in a row. The Rockets come to Revelstoke on Wednesday, and that is followed by four more games before the end of the weekend.
The regular season starts on Saturday, Sept. 13, when the Grizzlies head down the highway to battle the Sicamous Eagles.