Cents’ spring evaluation camp highly successful
“There were a lot of good players, smart players out there.”
Those were the words of Merritt Centennials’ assistant coach and assistant GM Joe Martin following his team’s three-day evaluation camp at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena this past weekend.
A total of 74 players took part in the spirited, high-tempo camp which featured both five-on-five and three-on-three scrimmages over the course of the three days.
Camp participants came from as far away as Claremont, California and White-horse in the Yukon. There were six local players involved: netminder Griffin Baillie, defenseman Gabriel Musgrave, and forwards Zack Sanderson, Daylan Robertson, Malik Miller and Riley Barnes.
Breaking the camp down, Martin stated, “We were very happy with the offensive production. With losing our two top scorers from this past year (Evan Stack and Chad Brears), we know that it’s an area we have to beef up a bit.
“We’re always on the lookout for players who have that unteachable skill, that natural ability to find the back of the net.”
In terms of defense, Martin knows that he and head coach Luke Pierce have their work cut out for them in terms of filling a quartet of available spots for next season.
“Finding four quality defensemen to play on a very good hockey team will be difficult,” said Martin. “We’re going to have to do some serious thinking in terms of filling those places. I thought that there were four or five guys at camp who could play Jr. A right now. Having that many here was a step in the right direction for us.”
Between the pipes, Martin was very impressed with several of the netminders in camp. “I think there were two goalies on hand that will definitely be playing Jr. A next year, and another three young ones that have the potential to be playing at that level in a couple of years.”
Martin and Pierce will get another chance to assess talent at a second Centennials’ evaluation camp, scheduled for Maple Ridge on the June 22-24 weekend.
“The Lower Mainland camp last year was a good one. The likes of Tyler Martin and Brendan Lamont were both there, and ended up making our team,” Martin said. “We’re hoping to have an even better camp this year.”
Martin expects only about 40 players to be invited to the Cents’main camp from August 26-28.
“It’ll be a very competitive camp, not a lot of bodies” he said. “It’ll be a mix of returnees, some veteran Jr. B players obviously hungry to take the next step, some elite rookies, and a few prospects for the future as well.”
Prior to main camp, Martin and Pierce will be running a high-end conditioning camp for bantam, midget and Junior A and B players from August 17-19, followed by a six-day hockey camp for youth players from August 20-25.