Training camp officially started this morning. But the Nanaimo Clippers got together for a skate last night at the Nanaimo Ice Centre and stretched their legs for the week ahead.
“The season starts tomorrow,” said Colton Cyr, Clippers captain, afterwards. “It’s exciting. Guys are excited to be in town; it looks like we’ve got a good team out there – hopefully everybody buys into the system of what we’re doing here.”
The next day the 44 players were split into two groups. The groups practise separately in the mornings, then combine for afternoon sessions.
The process is a little different for the Clippers this year. Often, coach and general manager Bill Bestwick has selected his team during the off-season. This year, though, he’s opted to bring in at least 30 guys who have a legitimate shot to make the team and they’ll have to battle it out over the next two weeks.
“People are going to have to really be at their best to make our hockey team,” Bestwick said. “We don’t care if you’re a veteran two-year guy or three-year guy or who you are.”
Cyr said he agrees with the philosophy.
“You bring out the best in people when something’s on the line…” he said. “I want to see everyone go hard, battle hard.”
Camp will be competitive but it’s not strictly a contest – it’s also an important time of year for team building.
“I want guys to enjoy themselves,” said Cyr. “Whether they stay here or they go home I want guys to have fun.”
ICE CHIPS … The Clippers have parted ways with backup goalie Rhys Hadfield, but every other eligible returning veteran reported to camp this week … Group A practises at 9 a.m., Group B goes at 11 a.m. and then both groups hit the ice together at 4 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. Group A features Victor Newell, Mike Puddifant and Tyler Mah on defence and Brayden Jaw, Andrew Gladiuk and Mike Domsodi up front. Group B has Cyr, Kyle Kramer, Tristan Lowenberger and Gerry, Myles and Leo Fitzgerald up front, Nick Bell on D and Loic Boivin in goal … The first B.C. Hockey League pre-season game is this Friday (Aug. 27) in Duncan.