Young hockey players from across the country are making their way to Trail this weekend to strut their stuff.
There are over 90 names registered for the Trail Smoke Eaters annual Spring Camp and Head Coach Nick Deschenes, says the players heading to the Silver City have a wide range of skill, talent and hometowns.
“We have players coming from Vancouver Island to Cranbrook, some from Alberta and Ontario and a few from the United States,” he said. “We’ve got a good range. Last year, we only had about 50 (players). It should be really good competition.”
Once the players arrive at camp, they will be split into six teams (white, yellow, black, blue, red and orange), with some players from the Smokies roster joining them on the ice.
“We are going to incorporate some of our younger players as well, just for comparison,” said Deschenes, adding that the camp isn’t about improving a player’s passing or running drills. “We are going to be jumping right into games.”
The idea is to get a good look at what players are capable of, and for Deschenes, to see who the team will be inviting back to their next training camp.
“It will give the players an opportunity to show us what they can do,” he said. “The camp is part of the process for a player to get identified. It gives us an idea of who we want to have move along to our main camp.”
Some of the players signed up for the three-day camp aren’t quite ready to play with the Smoke Eaters next season, says Deschenes, but what better way to introduce the Smokies program to young players?
“We also have a lot of players in the spring camp that are a year or two away from playing Junior A hockey,” he said. “It is good, though, for them to see what Trail is all about and to establish a relationship and move forward with them.”
This year, the competition is going to be stiff for the young skaters, all vying for a spot in the team’s main camp. Deschenes says from the 50 players at last year’s spring camp, only three were invited back in the fall.
“(The Smokies) do have a little bit more of a foundation this year from the previous season (and 90 skaters at camp),” he said. “It is going to be a little bit competitive.”
The Camp will feature six teams facing off over three days. The first match starts at noon on Friday with White vs Black and games going every 90 minutes until the last match at 3 p.m.
On Saturday teams will play two matches with games going at 9, 10:15, 11:30 a.m., 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. In between their will be a goalie session at 2 p.m. and a NCAA/BCHL presentation for the players.
The weekend closes with player evaluations on Sunday and games going at 8:30 a.m. 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.