There weren’t too many familiar faces at the Golden Rockets’ main camp over the weekend, but those that were there had no trouble impressing head coach Ty Davidson.
Standouts among returning players were forward Ian Desrosier and forward turned defenceman Sean Ripley.
Desrosier, who earned a spot on the Rockets’ second line last season, showed some early chemistry with newcomer Zack Finlay. Late in Sunday afternoon’s scrimmage, Finlay screamed down the left wing and found a waiting Desrosier at the goal mouth for an easy finish.
It was a typical performance from the pair throughout camp, and an encouraging sign for Davidson, who wouldn’t dismiss the idea that Desrosier and Finlay could form a duo on one of the club’s top two lines.
“All week long, they’ve been dynamite together, so that looks like it could be at least a tandem,” Davidson said.
The Rockets still anticipate having a few of their forwards from last season sent back to the club from Junior A tryouts. Nick Hoobanoff was a Junior A casualty over the weekend and was due to return to Golden on Monday. The Canal Flats native put up a promising 28 points in 49 games last season as a rookie and should give the coaching staff another skilled player to put on their top two lines.
“He’s a great player and he’ll compliment anybody,” Davidson said.
Ripley is being used on defence after battling an injury last season and only managing to play in 28 games, most of those coming as a forward. Both Davidson and assistant coach Danny Orr agreed he looked extremely comfortable on the blueline throughout camp
“He’s been doing really well,” Davidson said. “It’s hard to tell he is new to defence.”
In addition to Finlay, a few newcomers made some early, positive impressions. Among them was local product Jake Gudjonson, who is too young to play full-time for the Rockets but will find a place on the roster as an associate player, which will allow him to play up to five games.
“When you get a kid that good, you have to find something for him,” Davidson said. “He looks like a future (full-time) Rocket.”
Alex Astasiewicz appears to be another promising addition. The defenceman was selected in the third round by the Everett Silvertips in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft and will find a home on the Rockets blueline as a 16 year-old. At 6’0” and 190 lbs, Astasiewicz already possesses good size and should give the team a solid two-way presence on the back end.
In net, competition was fierce amongst the goaltenders brought to camp but California native Mitchell Privett remains the favourite to earn the starting gig. Privett was set to play Junior A hockey south of the border last season before an injury derailed his season.
The Rockets played their first exhibition game at home last night (Sept. 2) against the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
Log on to www.thegoldenstar.net for a full game report.