High-performance hockey preps for pre-season

The Midget Kootenay Ice and AAA West Kootenay Wildcats held their evaluation camps on the weekend.

The Major Midget Kootenay Ice and the AAA Female Wildcats held their respective camps on the weekend and are set for preseason action. Jim Bailey photo.

Hockey season is off to a torrid start with the Trail Smoke Eaters and Beaver Valley Nitehawks hosting their main camps the past two weeks. But sandwiched between the two Junior camps, was the J. L. Crowe High Performance Hockey Academy (HPHA), whose Major Midget Kootenay Ice and AAA Female Wildcats evaluation camps hit Cominco ice last weekend.

The BC Major Midget Ice got a jump on the school year as returning coach Kris Boyce and General Manager Terry Jones put about 25 skaters through the paces.

“It went really well,” said Jones. “I was really impressed with the level of play. We largely have our roster set and it’s pretty exciting.”

Following their Spring Camp, the Ice had six positions to fill heading into the BC Major Midget League’s (BCMML) Prospects Camp at the end of June.

Players who had not committed to a team following the Spring Identification Camp were invited to attend the Prospects Camp, June 23–25 at the Richmond Olympic Oval, where they were required to submit a ranked list of teams that they were willing to play for.

Teams were also eligible to submit requests for interview with players during the weekend of the Prospects Camp through BC Hockey. If multiple requests were made for a player, the team that finished lower in the regular season standings the previous year had the first opportunity. At the end of the camp, 29 players accepted roster commitments.

Going into the Ice’s evaluation camp on Thursday, the team was almost, but not completely set, with Junior B camps, like the Nitehawks, ongoing this week, and final cuts yet to be made.

“I feel pretty strongly that we’re pretty much there,” said Jones. “We’re still waiting for one guy who is at a Junior camp.”

The Ice had a historic season after moving from Nelson to Trail last year, and becoming part of the J. L. Crowe High Performance Hockey Academy.

A new GM in Jones, and a coaching staff headed by homegrown product, Boyce, led the Ice to its best record, 18-21-0-1, in team history and its first playoff berth.

The Ice have a bye the first weekend of BCMML regular season play, so this year’s team has more than a month to prepare for its opening game at the end of September. The Ice have an exhibition tournament Sept. 8-10 in Kelowna and hope to organize pre-season games the following two weekends. With the roster all but set, Jones likes the make-up of the team and the direction Boyce and assistants Tyler Hlookoff, Paul Mailey, and Dyne Parker are heading.

“They did a great job selecting the club,” said Jones. “I’m impressed with the professionalism of those guys … and really love the direction of that team.”

The Wildcats also enjoyed one of their best results in the Female Midget AAA league last season, finishing fourth overall with a 10-14-6 record, and winning the first round of the playoff against the Vancouver Island Seals, before being eliminated by eventual champion Greater Vancouver Comets.

The Cats will have a new coach behind the bench with Trail’s Darrell Boisvert taking over for longtime coach Carey Fisher.

For the past three seasons, Boisvert coached the Greater Trail Bantam Rep Tier 2 team and also held coaching positions with the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) Selkirk Saints and spent many years in the BC Hockey Program of Excellence (POE).

The Wildcats worked out on and off the ice over the weekend, with players also visiting J. L. Crowe for a tour.

The Ice and Wildcats players attend J. L. Crowe Secondary as full-time students, and pariticipants in the HPHA, while playing in their respective BC Hockey Leagues.

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