Time flies when you make it all the way to the finals.
The summer was a short one for the Nanaimo Clippers, who begin training camp today (Aug. 24).
With Nanaimo coming off a playoff run that lasted until mid April, and the league moving the schedule ahead one week, it made for an abbreviated off-season.
“It seemed to really fly by, and we had a lot of work to do this summer to try to get the team back together when you lose players every year,” said Mike Vandekamp, coach and general manager of the Clippers. “We’re definitely looking forward to getting going here, though. It’s going to be fun.”
The Clippers are starting camp with similar player numbers to most years.
The group of returning forwards includes Sheldon Rempal, Devin Brosseau and others, and there are several returnees on defence including Yanni Kaldis, Edwin Hookenson, Kale Bennett and Ryan Coghlan. There are no returning goalies, and the Clips will have six netminders the first week of camp.
“I like what we’ve got here,” Vandekamp said. “We’ve got strong goaltending, new faces, but strong.
“The D corpes is veteran-laden. It’s an older D corps, but a couple younger guys are competing for spots.
“Up front, we’ve got a lot of new faces but we’ve acquired some good players.”
He said the forward recruits include guys with NCAA Div. 1 commitments and U.S. Hockey League experience.
“If anything, I think the biggest unknown is probably the forwards, but I like what we’ve got to work with,” Vandekamp said.
The Clippers get underway today with fitness testing, and the coach said camp will continue to be hard.
“We’re not easing into anything. We expect guys nowadays to show up in condition,” Vandekamp said. “We want to get to work as fast as we can.”
The first three days of practices and scrimmages will be about competing and “seeing what guys are made of,” the coach said, and then by the second week of camp, he wants to start on systems and structure.
Just because the Clippers made it all the way to the B.C. Hockey League finals doesn’t mean they have it all figured out, and can run training camp the exact same way.
“You learn from your successes and your failures, right? Some of the things we did well, we can try to emulate,” Vandekamp said. “But at the same time, you’re always trying to get better and we didn’t win it all. We’ve still got another step we’ve got to take.”
Practices are at 9 a.m. and and 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with scrimmages at 3:30 p.m. all three days.
GAME ON … The Rhodesie Cup intrasquad game takes place Friday (Aug. 28) at 6 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. Nanaimo’s first B.C. Hockey League pre-season exhibition game is Saturday on the road against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Nanaimo’s first home exhibition is Wednesday (Sept. 2) when the Victoria Grizzlies visit Frank Crane Arena for a 7 p.m. faceoff.