With Nanaimo Clippers training camp in full swing, head coach and GM Mike Vandekamp is hoping that players step up to fill some big holes.
Players like 2012-13 top point and assist getter Greg Fraser are no longer with the team and leading up to the team’s regular season B.C. Hockey League regular season opener on Sept. 7 versus West Kelowna, Vandekamp and staff will have some decisions to make.
“We don’t have a lot of returning guys so we’re just getting to know a lot of the new faces,” Vandekamp said. “We have a lot of them and I think basically right now we’re going to have to sort through it and figure out where everybody’s going to fit in.”
He said the Clippers’ staff did a lot of recruiting during the off-season and it feels comfortable with where it is at but there are a lot positions to fill.
“We’ve got 40 players in camp and the roster is 22 players, so we’re going to pick the best 22 and it sounds a bit cliche but all the spots are open and that’s the honest truth. We’ve got, I believe, nine guys back and we had a pretty good year last year. We didn’t win everything so their spots are up for grabs like anybody else’s and they have to come in and earn their spots this year and our new faces will be competing with them.”
Jayson Argue, who played goal for the Clippers last season, is amongst four vying for a chance to compete for time between the pipes – Connor LaCouvee was acquired in an off-season trade with the Cowichan Capitals and Vandecamp said there was also two other netminders, aged 18 years and 16 years.
The Nanaimo Clippers will have their annual Rhodesie Cup intrasquad game Friday (Aug. 23), 7 p.m., at Frank Crane Arena.
“There will be a small donation made by people that come to the game for local charity and basically, that will be our final intrasquad game in training camp,” Vandekamp said. “After that game, it’s safe to say we’ll probably knock the (roster) numbers down a bit, so it’s a big game for the players.”
Admission for the Rhodesie Cup is a minimum $2 donation with proceeds going to charity in the name of late Nanaimo sports reporter Michael Rhode.