The ice is in, the skates are sharp and the Sicamous Eagles are gearing up for the 2019 KIJHL season.
The team’s main camps, running from Aug. 23 to 25, gave the players a chance to shake off the last of the off-season rust and the coaches time to look over the approximately 40 players at camp to pick the team’s final roster.
Eagles head coach Tyler Gunn said among the players in camp are five returnees from last season’s roster.
Speaking before the outset of the main camp, Gunn said the final roster will depend how players perform.
“We could peel away a few, we could peel away more, we’ll see when that time comes.”
Eagles general manager Wayne March said difficulties attracting players is becoming a league-wide problem and 40 is fewer players than have attended Eagles camps in previous years. He noted that Gunn had worked incredibly hard since being hired to scout quality players and get them to the camp.
Gunn said all the players at the camp are serious contenders for roster spots and their high skill level will make competition for those spots that much stiffer.
“It’s going to be a tough camp. It’s going to be a very competitive camp because everybody is at the level to be playing in our league and everybody is fighting for a position,” Gunn said. “It’s going to be very high tempo, I’m looking forward to it.”
Among the players at camp was Frazier Mohler, a 19-year-old right winger from Phoenix, Arizona. Mohler said youth hockey isn’t very big in the southwestern U.S. state, but he fell in love with it at a young age and knew that a trip to its birthplace was in order.
“Canada is the home of hockey and I wanted to check it out. I’ve heard really good things about the Eagles and the KIJHL in general,” Mohler said.
Mohler caught Gunn’s eye at the Lakeland Super Camp in Vancouver and was invited to the Eagles’ camp. Lakeland was one of several camps Gunn scouted.
March said he isn’t surprised by the fact players who played their minor hockey far from the B.C. Interior seek spots on KIJHL rosters.
“It’s classed as one of the best Junior-B hockey leagues in Canada because of our development,” March said.
Gunn said players who make the final roster can expect to be busy both on the ice and with increased involvement in the community during the season. He said players would be assisting with minor hockey skills development and with school reading groups among other initiatives.
“We want to invest in the community like the community invests in us,” he said.
The puck drops on the Eagles’ first pre-season game at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29 on the road against the Kamloops Storm. The first home game for the Eagles will be on Aug. 31, also against the Storm.
We want to invest in the community like the community invests in us.