It might seem like hockey season is still eons away but in just a few short months the Golden Rockets will be hitting the ice for the 2015/16 season and the team, and its new head coach Jason Stephens, have already begun preparing.
Stephens got a first, good look at some Rockets veterans, as well as some fresh faces, over the course of a three-day spring camp in Cochrane from June 12-14 that included 35 skaters and eight goalies.
“It was a real mix of players but it was actually a really good camp. It was really competitive,” Stephens said.
Among those participating were several Rockets veterans, including forwards Braeden Allkins, Cole Mckechney, Travis Kelley, Zack Finlay, Ian Desrosier, Tanner Witt and Riley Barnes, defencemen Nic Noseworthy and Sean Ripley and goaltender Mark Becica.
While many of the returning guys participated in just a single day of the three day camp, Stephens said it was helpful for him to get a look at some of the potential veterans that he’ll have at his disposal come this fall.
“I think the returning guys were everything I would hope they would be as a coach and…probably right at the standard of what I’m looking for with players,” Stephens said.
“I was quite happy to see what we’ve got coming back for sure.”
Stephens was also encouraged by the response he has received from many of the team’s veteran leaders, with the group sharing his goals for the future of the organization.
“Players are quite excited about some of the changes that we’ve brought in and some of the things that we are looking to do moving forward,” he said.
Also in attendance were a pair of young players that are familiar to the organization. Both Brendan Sime-Vivian and Jake Gudjonson, affiliated players in 14/15, made good first impressions with Stephens.
“Jake did real well, I like seeing him on the ice. I think he’s got good speed, he’s got a good mind for the game. There’s some question marks that I have for him but definitely bring him back to main camp…you could see he has some definite upside potential,” Stephens said.
“(Sime-Vivian) sort of came into his own by the time Sunday came around…he’s another guy that definitely caught my attention.”
As far as the Rockets’ lineup goes for next season, it’s still too early to know exactly how that will look, such is the reality for teams in Junior B with most players going through tryouts at the Junior A level before committing to KIJHL teams. The Rockets will reconvene in late August for their main training camp, with the exhibition season to follow in early September.