The future — both near and distant — became a little more clear for the Moose Jaw Warriors over the past two days.
The Warriors concluded their rookie camp Friday night and 18 players graduated to main camp.
“There was no one who was out of place at rookie camp — from camp invites to listed guys to drafted players,” said Warriors general manager Alan Millar.
“It was a good camp. Thursday was a really long day with the fitness testing and the beep test on ice, but we were really encouraged by the first scrimmage. With it being a long day we really felt the kids competed hard.”
Players that have moved on from Warriors rookie camp to main camp are goalies Brody Willms and Alex Corley, defencemen Tyler Brown, Dylan Dix, Ryan Gardiner, Dustin Perillat, Darren Rizzolo and Christos Zinis. Forwards Blake Bargar, Ryan Bowen, Gianluca Esteves, Jacob Garman, Matthieu Gomercic, Jayden Halbgewachs, Brett Howden, Ethan Lazaro, Zac Whitby and Ethan Williams have also moved up to main camp.
They now have five goalies, 14 defencemen and 24 forwards remaining in camp.
The Warriors kept seven 1998s who can’t make the final roster and another seven are signed 1997-born players.
Two of the players at main camp — Corley and Esteves — were unlisted camp invites.
Corley a late-96 birthday who played for Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota last year and is from just a suburb of Denver. Esteves is 5-10 centre from Winnipeg.
Gomercic is 6-1 and the Winnipeg product was listed out of camp last year. Whitby was a 10th round pick in 2012 and is 5-8 Calgary product.
“I wouldn’t say there were surprises as opposed to guys who played well,” said Millar. “You look at Gomercic, he’s a big kid and he seems to have progressed well. Esteves was a camp invite so credit to him. He’s earned his way to main camp.
“I wouldn’t sit here and say anybody shocked us. The good thing about having some depth and the camp being competitive was that we weren’t searching for guys to move on to main camp. There are probably guys who are disappointed and who were right on the bubble.”
Dix was the Warriors sixth round pick in the last bantam draft and is from Scotts Valley, Calif. He said he felt pretty comfortable at his first WHL training camp and it looking to learn as much as he can at main camp.
“I want to see how I can do against the guys on the team and some of the older guys fighting for a spot,” said Dix. “I hope to see how you need to play and how you need to compete at main camp. Some of these guys compete hard, so it’s good experience.”
Dix will play for the Arizona Bobcats AAA team and has been practicing with them for three weeks already. There were five other Bobcats at camp. Though Dix was far from home he said that attending the summer prospects camp helped his learning curve.
“The prospects camp definitely helped. I got to meet a lot of the guys and I go to see the facilities. I knew some guys so that helped a lot,” said Dix.
While Dix knows where he is headed this year, Lazaro is one of 10 1997-born players who are trying to make the team as 16-year-olds.
Lazaro spent five days a week in the gym this summer and skated four days a week. He wasn’t pleased with his play in rookie camp and is looking to be much improved at main camp.
“I had bursts of speed, but I need to be more consistent, that’s for sure,” said Lazaro who is from St. Albert, Alta. “I need to make quick decisions (at main camp). When the pressure is on, I need to work on calming down and making a quick pass.”
Speed is one of Lazaro’s strengths and he is adapting to playing at a level where everyone has speed and he can’t skate his way out of trouble.
“It’s really fast and I just need to keep up and excel if I can speed-wise,” said Lazaro. “I’m trying to use (my speed), but everyone is super fast. Now if you make a mistake they’re just as fast or faster.”
The Warriors are on the ice at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and 4 p.m. Saturday.
Training camp will conclude with the Black and White intrasquad game (6 p.m., Mosaic Place).