In a half-season with the North Okanagan Knights, Brady Marzocco made an impression.
The Armstrong product has carried that over into training camp for the new Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season.
Signed from the Vernon Vipers Tier 2 Midget Reps at Christmas 2015, Marzocco scored six goals and 11 points in 18 regular season games with the Knights, then added three goals in four playoff games as North Okanagan was swept in the first round by the Osoyoos Coyotes.
“He’s been our best player in camp,” said Knights head coach and general manager Bryant Perrier. “He’s put on about 15 pounds and he came to camp really prepared. He’s going to be really good.”
Marzocco is one of 28 players and five goalies remaining with the Knights, who kick off their pre-season schedule tonight in Rutland against the Kelowna Chiefs. North Okanagan hosts Kelowna Sunday at 7 p.m. at Kal Tire Place.
Other forwards making impressions with the Knights include a pair from Prince George, Dean Whitcomb and Matthias Urbanski, Riley Swiscoski from Vernon and Luke Harvey, a Lethbridge native whose family moved to Kelowna where he played for the Pursuit Of Excellence Academy.
Jack Berger, one of the returnees from last year’s squad, is at the B.C. Hockey League’s West Kelowna Warriors training camp.
Logan Geefs has returned to the club as a 20-year-old after sitting out last season.
“He’s a good player and a quality individual,” said Perrier.
On defence, the Knights have gotten bigger with the addition of 6-foot-6, 220-pound Cole Johnson of Nanaimo, and 6-foot-3, 210-pound Jeff Schlenker of West Kelowna.
Throw in Vernon rookies Jason Shaigec, Grady Caton and Aiden Ryson, and the newbies will give incumbents like Layne Greene, Andre Piquette and Drayton Martin a run for ice time.
Piquette is currently away at the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings camp while Martin is healthy after having his injured hand surgically repaired.
There are still five goalies left in camp, led by Okanagan Mainline Midget League MVP Conor Webb of Vernon, who is battling for a spot with Jared Breitkreutz, Robert Nawrot, Connor Coelho and Thomas Watts.
Fellow netminder Daniel Paul, the Knights’ 2015-16 MVP, is at the Merritt Centennials camp.
Perrier expects to split the players in half for this weekend’s home-and-home exhibition with the Chiefs.
North Okanagan plays its final pre-season game Friday, Sept. 2, in Sicamous against the Eagles.