The Kootenay Ice locked down their top prospects following the team’s spring camp at the Beaver Valley Arena on Saturday and Sunday.
“We had a tremendous turn out,” said Ice General Manager Les Cleverly. “Our numbers were increased a week prior to camp that got us up to over 40. Had a great turnout and a lot of good feedback and input from the parents, and upon our exit interviews we had a lot of great feedback from the kids who were involved and invited a lot of them back to our Main Camp in August.”
Major Midget League teams are required to commit 11 players at the end of spring camp and two goalies by May 15. In conjunction with the J.L. Crowe High Performance Hockey Academy, the Ice released the names of the committed players. The list includes a strong lineup of returning players in veteran goalie Tenzin Mint of Nelson, defencemen Gavin Damstrom, Kaleb Percival, and Anthony Williams, and forwards Joe Davidson, Austin McKenzie, and Noah Quinn. In addition, newcomers Leith Olafson of Cranbrook, Kjell Osborne from Golden, and Greater Trail APs Jacob Smith and Ethan Smyth complete the committed 11.
Cleverly and the coaching staff will now attend the prospects camp in June where 168 uncommitted players, including 96 forwards, 48 defenceman, and 24 goalies, will be looking to play their way onto a team. The BCMML looks for the top players in the province so candidates are reviewed by a BCMML evaluation group. The 11 BCMML teams then invite those uncommitted players to their main camps to fill out their rosters.
For Kootenay, the more difficult task is competing with Kelowna, Kamloops, and Lower Mainland teams for top-end players. The Rockets held a four-day spring camp last week, with 160 players competing for a spot on the 23-man roster.
“The teams in the bigger centres obviously have a lot more of a pool of kids to choose from, so the reality to that is they usually have the pick of the kids they want, because they also have alternative teams they can play on, like minor midget.”
Despite the tilted ice, Cleverly says he was happy with the numbers that attended the Ice camp and is confident that this year’s team will show improvement.
“Were going to be competitive,” said Cleverly. “We’re going to be able to compete. The one thing I put a lot of focus on with the kids and especially the returning kids is just laying out clear and concise expectations for what we as bench staff and we as a hockey team expect on and off the ice.
“We certainly got that buy-in from the players, and we have a commitment from them that we’re going to change our model to meet the needs of the competitiveness in the league.”