The Cariboo Cougars staff have made their first cuts for the upcoming B.C. Hockey Major Midget League season.
With the summer tryout camp behind them, the team’s coaches and management will begin preparing for main training camp, Sept. 3 to 5 at the Coliseum.
Fifty players remain listed with the team, a reduction from the 92 who participated on the camp held Thursday to Sunday at the Coliseum. The group is comprised of 30 forwards, 15 defencemen and five goalies. Among the group is 11 skaters and a goalie they’ve committed to for the 2010-11 campaign to meet a requirement set by the league.
Committed players are: forwards Jari Erricson (Prince George), Luke Gordon (Terrace), Eli Jarvis (Quesnel), Levon Johnson (Quesnel), Seb Lloyd (Prince George), Devin Oakes (Prince Rupert), Chase Witala (Prince George) and Tyson Witala (Prince George); defencemen Samuel Brennan (Dawson Creek), Jared Crossan (Prince George) and Alex Roach (Quesnel); and goalie David Readman (Dawson Creek).
The team’s final roster size will be 20, set in time for the beginning of the 2010-11 Major Midget League season next month. They’ll settle on 12 forwards, six defenceman and two goalies. Cariboo Cougars manager Andy Beesley expects they’ll make final cuts following an exhibition set in the Okanagan from Sept. 10 to 12.
The team’s final roster will depend heavily on how players perform in next month’s main training sessions.
“Then we’ll select the cream of the crop and the big difference is obviously the two camps,” Beesley said. “The first camp you’re just looking for basic skills, who can play and who’s got the skating down.”
Summer camps carry a perception of being designed more as a starting point for players to get back in shape for the upcoming hockey season. Beesley notes that times are changing.
“I think in the old days, kids who showed up to this type of thing treat it as a training camp. In other words, you start training,” he said. “What we’re finding now is that the elite players are showing up in unbelievable shape.”
The physical health levels can be seen in off-ice testing.
“They definitely impressed the evaluators and I know in at least one or two cases, that that was the deciding factor to keep them for the next camp,” Beesley said. “On the ice they were kind of on the bubble, but when we looked at their fitness charts, they were off the charts in a good way, and the evaluators said that kid needs to be rewarded for his hard work and we’re keeping him for now.”
Visiting players travelled from throughout northern B.C., as far south as 100 Mile House, west to Prince Rupert and north to Whitehorse, Yukon.
“It’s phenomenal the amount of interest there is for even the far corners of our region,” Beesley said.
For the first time in their seven-year history, Cariboo Cougars’ games will be broadcast online. Play-by-play announcer Alex Rawnsley will run down the action of all of their home games at Kin 1, with commentary coming from Jerome LaMarre. Coverage will begin 15 minutes prior to each home contest. The team has also updated its website. For more information, visit www.cariboocougars.ca.