Young players looking to make a leap at Warriors camp
After missing the playoffs for two straight seasons, the Moose Jaw Warriors don't plan on letting anyone rest on their laurels going forward.
Moose Jaw Warriors
The team has made a pair of trades and released two veterans so far in the off-season. This weekend the team will host their annual prospects camp and for the 30 young players attending there are opportunities to gain — and lose — over the course of the camp.
"For some of these guys it's their second or third camp and they're eligible to make our team. They need to continue to make an impression on our organization and our coaching staff. Their evaluations in terms of where they will be in the fall and competing or spots on this team will be reflective on this camp," said Warriors general manager Alan Millar.
"We are getting to a point with certain guys, now that they've been through one or two prospects camps… they're also fighting to get back to main camp. It's not a slam dunk that everybody who is at this camp will necessarily be invited back to main camp."
While some guys will be fighting to get to main camp. The prospects camp also features players like defenceman Ryan Gardiner and forwards Jayden Halbgewachs, Noah Gregor and Brett Howden who will be looking to be regulars with the Warriors when the season opens.
Ethan Lazaro and Ethan Williams are two more signed forwards who are heading into the 17-year-old season. Their time to impress is now if they want make the team next season.
The players will gather in Moose Jaw Thursday and the camp will open with a reception for the 2014 Bantam Draft class. The players will do fitness testing Friday morning at YaraCentre. Their first on-ice session will be at 3 p.m. at the Barkman Arena in Caronport Friday. The players will be on the ice at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday in Caronport as well. All of the ice sessions are open to the public.
The goal of the camp is two-fold: while the 97- and 98-born players try to make a good impression, for this year's draft class, the camp is a chance to learn more about the program, the city and life in junior hockey.
"We want those young guys to come in and learn about our organization. We want them to enjoy the experience and compete hard during the on-ice sessions," said Millar. "Really we give them this camp as a bit of a pass… we're going to evaluate them, but their opportunity to make our hockey team isn't going to be made or broken at this camp."
A pair of promising American defencemen for the Warriors, Christos Zinis and Dylan Dix, will both miss the camp due to injury. Zinis had shoulder surgery early in the new year and Dix recently had knee surgery. Tristan Langan, a 2013 draft pick, broke his wrist and will also miss the camp Brandon Armstrong, the Warriors 2014 fifth round draft pick, won't attend due to family reasons.
"Our indication is that all three players who are currently injured will be good for training camp," said Millar.
Former Warriors captain Kendall McFaull will coach at the camp along with current assistant coach Mark O'Leary. Former Warriors Cody Beach and current Warrior Tanner Eberle will both be helping throughout camp.
Millar feels it's important to keep those ties to the past strong and also feels that former players are good ambassadors for the team and a good resource.
"Your alumni is so important," said Millar. "You have both your curent roster players, like a Tanner Eberle, coming in and helping out. You have Cody Beach and Quinton Howden will be in town with family and Brett being at camp. Obviously Kendall McFaull is here as a former captain, a great player for us and someone who is using their WHL scholarship.
"You really have the scope of what it takes to be player in the league and what it takes to play for this club. You have the scope of players who are with the club now, have grown pro or are in the CIS. I think all of that information is invaluable to the players and the families coming in."