The Nanaimo Clippers will have enough left in the tanks to play some hockey games on the weekend.
But it will no doubt be a challenge after a demanding first week of training camp.
“It was a tough practice, so the boys are pretty tired,” said Ryan Wells, Clippers defence prospect, after the first skate on Tuesday. “It’s good to get back on the ice, though.”
Forty players took to the ice at Frank Crane Arena that day after fitness testing and meetings on Monday.
New coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp said he wanted to send a message right away at camp, and players figured it out.
“It’s pretty evident that he wants hard work and you’re going to have to do that in order to play on his squad,” said Tanner Clarkson, a forward prospect.
The Clippers won’t really start to emphasize systems and team play until the second week of camp – the first week is more about pitting the players against one another in competitive drills so coaches can plot out roster decisions.
“Mike’s said, everyone’s fighting for a spot here and everyone’s got to put their best on the ice,” said Wells. “Hard-nosed hockey – that’s what he wants to see out here.”
Players are aware they’re being evaluated, but Clarkson said he tries to put it out of his mind and tries to play his best.
“Everyone’s giving it their all because there’s always spots to lose,” he said. “It looks like there’s some good talent so it’s an exciting start to the season.”
The first week of camp culminates Friday (Sept. 9) with an intrasquad game. The players have been practising and scrimmaging this week as Team Black and Team Orange, but those rosters might be shuffled for Friday’s game.
“There’s going to be tension getting built each game,” Clarkson said. “Each game should be getting better and better with more competition as you go on.”
Wells said players are already talking about Friday’s intrasquad game and looking forward to it.
“Everyone’s got a pretty competitive attitude here and everyone wants to win,” he said.
GAME ON … The Nanaimo Clippers are inviting fans to watch their intrasquad game Friday (Sept. 9) at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena. Admission is $2. The game is being billed as the Rhodesie Cup in memory of sportswriter Michael Rhode. Admission proceeds will be donated in his name to KidSport Nanaimo … The Clippers’ first B.C. Hockey League pre-season game is Saturday (Sept. 10) at 5:30 p.m. at Port Alberni against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, then the Clips and Bulldogs play a rematch the following day at 3 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.