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Alberni Bulldogs open training camp
The ice is in and the Bulldogs are back in the Dog Pound this week.
Training camp kicks off this weekend, and by Sunday night fans should have a pretty good idea of what the 10th anniversary team will look like.
“We’re excited about returning players and what we’ve done for recruiting in the off-season,” head coach Paul Esdale said.
“We’re excited to see where guys are at.”
Esdale has said two of the things the team needs to improve on are its overall speed and its skill level. He’s eager to see how his new recruits adapt to the faster pace of the B.C. Hockey League.
“We’ve got a lot of young, talented forwards and I’m looking forward to seeing how they do,” he said.
Esdale is bringing 10 goaltenders to training camp, including last year’s backup Kiefer Giroux and Max Fenkell, who committed to the Bulldogs last April. Since star netminder Frank Slubowski aged out at the end of last season, Esdale will be looking for his No. 1 and backup for this season.
“It’s going to be competitive,” he said.
“I’ve said all along we’ll keep the two best goalies and the best will play more.”
Coaches throughout the BCHL are faced with a smaller roster this year—just 21 players, and they must include some younger players as well.
Bulldogs’ captain Trent Dorais was among the players finding their legs on the ice earlier this week.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “From what I’ve seen so far from some of the new recruits, I think we’ve got a whole different look.”
Dorais says the team will be more skilled this year, faster and be more of a puck possession team.
“Obviously it’s tough to tell just from skating...coming into camp it will be interesting to see how guys react to the higher-paced play.”
Like Esdale, Dorais expects some of last year’s younger players to fight for a spot on the team this year.
“I think you’ll see a lot of guys step up and come into their own,” he said.
Main camp started on Thursday, Sept. 1.
Players were divided into four teams, each named after a Bulldog alumni that made positive contributions to the community and have moved on to play college or pro hockey: Kevin Ross played defense for four seasons with the Bulldogs, most recently in 2010-11; David Dziurzynski played one season with the Bulldogs and is only one of a handful of players that signed a pro deal (with Ottawa Senators) coming out of Junior A as an undrafted player; Devin Timberlake played three seasons for the Bulldogs from 2003-2006 and last season played in the American Hockey League with Providence Bruins; and Alberni native Tyler Ruel, who holds the franchise record for most career points (236 points in 236 games).
After all the games are completed on Saturday, the top players will be selected and two new teams will be created to play in the Select White/Black game on Sunday for the “Bulldogs Cup”.
All scrimmages are open to the public and free to attend through Saturday. The team is asking everyone coming to the “Bulldogs Cup” game on Sunday to bring a non-perishable food item.
2011–2012 Main Camp
Friday, Sept. 2
8:30-10 a.m. – TEAM ROSS (black) vs. TEAM TIMBERLAKE (red)
10:15-11:45 a.m. – TEAM DZIURZYNSKI (white) vs. TEAM RUEL (yellow)
2:30-4 p.m. – TEAM ROSS (black) vs. TEAM RUEL (yellow)
Saturday, Sept. 3
8:00-9:30 a.m. – TEAM DZIURZYNSKI (white) vs. TEAM RUEL (yellow)
9:45-11:15 a.m. – TEAM ROSS (black) vs. TEAM TIMBERLAKE (red)
1:45-3:15 p.m. – 3rd place vs. 4th place
3:30-5 p.m. – 1st place vs. 2nd place
Sunday, Sept. 4
10:00-12:15 p.m. – SELECT WHITE vs. SELECT BLACK “BULLDOGS CUP” GAME (please bring a non-perishable food item).