Fresh off their summer break, the defending South Island Division champions Victoria Cougars will open training camp on Friday at the Archie Browning Sports Centre in Esquimalt.
Due to being overage, several familiar names will not be present, most noticeably their top four scorers from last year — Sam McMullen (99 points), Michael Fretz (80 points), Wade Johnson (73 points), and Robert Zadra (56 points). Also not present this year is Howard Howden and Jake Stolz, who last year played out their junior eligibility as well.
Grant Payne, who posted a league-high 25 wins and four shutouts during the regular season, will be stopping pucks for the University of Northern Colorado in September. Many positions are up for grabs.
“There are openings at every position and we will be looking for players who are great teammates and great citizens as well as being talented,” said Cougars president Gary Boyer.
“It should be considered an honour and a privilege for any player to pull on the Cougars jersey.”
Despite the exodus of several key players, Boyer said Victoria still has a strong nucleus to build around. However, it will take several more hard-working, self-motivated players to make up another championship calibre team.
“It will be an exciting year for our club as we work towards building a team that will be ready to compete in the Cyclone Taylor Cup,” Boyer said.
The Victoria Cougars open their 2015-16 season at home on Thursday, Sept. 10 against the Kerry Park Islanders. Training camp begins on Friday from 5 to 8:15 p.m. and goes until Sunday, Sept. 6.