The North Island Silvertips took the ice for their first few strides this past weekend.
Actually, players were put through the paces for hours over three days at the Nanaimo Ice Centre, as the city’s B.C. Major Midget League hockey team held tryouts.
“It was great. The returnees all improved over the summer; the first-year players all did exceptional,” said Dan Lemmon, the team’s new coach.
“They all came conditioned, which was pleasant to see, and there wasn’t a sore thumb sticking out in regards to a lack of talent.”
He said player numbers are comparable to past years. He didn’t see as many out-of-town players as he might have liked, but the wealth of Nanaimo kids makes up for it.
“We have more depth all over,” Lemmon said. “We have more players that can play at a high level here than I’ve seen the past few seasons.”
It’s tough to get a true picture of the hockey team, said the coach, as many players will go on to participate at B.C. Hockey League or Western Hockey League training camps.
Two rookie standouts were Zach Funk and Chase Lang. Among the veterans, Quentin McShane and Brendan Taylor set the example. Lemmon also noted that all six goalies who tried out were “very, very competitive” and it was extremely difficult to cut down numbers at that position.
The next team-building step for the Silvertips will be an intrasquad game Aug. 20 at 3:30 p.m. at the NIC.
ICE CHIPS … Lemmon was assistant coach of the ’Tips the past two seasons and said he wants to maintain and build on what former coach Steve Parsons established. Lemmon looks forward to the new role.
“It’s an exciting age for these boys. It’s helping them make the next step to their goal of reaching junior A or WHL hockey,” he said. “I love the game and being able to help these kids toward their goals in hockey excites me.”