The road to winning a second-straight provincial title starts this weekend when the NEBC Midget Trackers host their tryout and training camp at the Pomeroy Sport Centre, August 23 to 25.
The Trackers have only eight returning players, but with 37 players attending camp, there’sno shortage of talented players eager to make the team. Head coach Gerard Dicaire isn’t worried about the high turnover this season.
“To be honest I don’t think it’s a challenge, it’s just a new year, and there will always be a turnover rate. We just have to set things in stone like the expectations and work rate. The game has changed to a skill game, but not in the sense that if you bring an attitude to learn and a work ethic, you’ll grow as a player,” said Dicaire.
The camp begins with two practice sessions Friday night, and two on Saturday morning, before three games Saturday afternoon and four games on Sunday. It’s a busy, hectic schedule, but one that Dicaire says is necessary for young players looking to make the jump to AA Midget.
“The program here is great, lots of guys coming in have been affiliate players and have seen playing time with us. Now they just have to adjust to the workload of the actual season, because it is busy. That’s why camp is stressful, with lots of ice times and running,” Dicaire said.
The Trackers had six players age out last year, including goalie Tyler McArthur and captain Connor Kindrat. With McArthur leaving, it leaves a void at the starting goaltender job, but Landon Hatton had a great season last year and, at 16, he could be poised to take over for years to come. However, there will only be two other goalies battling for a spot on the team this weekend, a number Dicaire says is down.
“Usually, we have four or five, but goalie numbers are down as a whole in minor hockey, the same with bantam, and that’s just something we have to focus on going forward, making sure we have goalies in the system,” said Dicaire.
The Trackers will also be without forward Devan Minard, who had 29 points in 30 games last year. Minard will play for the Cariboo Coogars Major Midget team in Prince George.
Dicaire is excited for camp and to see which players will step up to the plate.
“I feel great going in, and confident in the group. We have really good players coming in to camp and I can’t wait to see what happens.”
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.