Camp is going to be cutthroat.
The Nanaimo Clippers open training camp on Monday (Sept. 5) as they prepare for another B.C. Hockey League season.
This season is not like all the others, to be sure. New coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp is doing things his way, and early indications are that the 2011-12 Clippers are going to be vastly different than the team that skated off the ice at the end of 2010-11.
“This is very serious,” Vandekamp said. “We have to make decisions, make them quickly and ready ourselves for the start of the regular season on [Sept. 23] as quickly as we can.”
At this time of year, all the teams in the league are saying that their training camps are going to be very competitive. That is certainly the case in Nanaimo after Vandekamp brought in a lot of players to skate alongside the group of returnees.
“Whether it be a player who has signed with the hockey club in the off-season, a player who has formerly played on the hockey club or a player who’s coming in unsigned, I think everybody’s definitely competing for spots…” said the GM.
“Simply put, we have too many players.”
Forty guys will be at Frank Crane Arena at the start of Clippers camp, and by the start of the season that number has to be whittled down to 21.
“We’re going to focus more on competitive-type drills and put the guys into situations where we can see how hard they all compete with each other,” Vandekamp said.
Training camp will start with a day of fitness testing before the players put on the skates Tuesday (Sept. 6). On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the team will practise at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. and scrimmage at 6 p.m.
Friday the Clippers will play an intrasquad game at 7 p.m.
“I’d like to take the numbers down after Friday’s intrasquad game as low as we can get them,” Vandekamp said.
The next day, Sept. 10, the Clips open the pre-season with a road game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The team is looking forward to game action, but even just getting on the ice for camp will be enjoyable.
“Everybody’s excited to be getting going finally,” Vandekamp said.
ICE CHIPS … The team is seeking game-night volunteers to help with duties such as music, statistics and souvenir sales. For information, call 250-327-1150 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.