If it’s August this must be main camp.
Hockey season is fast approaching, and Oceanside’s Junior B Generals embark on their 2012/2013 campaign in earnest this weekend, at the club’s main hockey camp.
Expectations are high surrounding the local team, which underwent a wholesale change of the community-owned club’s board of directors as well as the coaching staff over the off season.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Generals’ new head coach and GM Brent Demerais said from Port Alberni this week when The News caught up with him.
The camp gets underway Friday evening and runs through to Sunday.
“I’m expecting around 45 players out this weekend,” said Demerais, adding that aside from a core group of returnees such as home grown players such as power forwards Travis Flug and Taylor Gray, and D-man Noah Russi, there are a number of new players he says “that are going to surprise some people.”
Two locals returning home to play with the Gens after suiting up with the Notre Dame Greyhounds, are defenseman Chandler Bruyckere, 17 and goalie Connor Lacouvee.
Two others to watch for are goalie Alex Mastrodonato and D-man Caden Infanti. Both boys hail from Powell River, and both were on last year’s Midget Rep Kings’ team that won the Island championships.
Keenan McConnell and Marino Summerville are back as will Joe Chase from Olympia, Washington and Cam McCerrick from Port Hardy.
Also on the ice and not hard to spot will be forward Tyler Wilhelm, a 6’3”, 260 pounder originally from Parksville.
“He’s got amazing hands — for a big man — and he’s got a cannon for a shot,” said Demerais, who coached Tyler in Port Alberni last year. “He’s a force out there that’s for sure.”
There is no admission to watch the camp, and as always, a number of BC Hockey League clubs will have area scouts in the stands taking notes and keeping tabs on the kids that impress.
The Generals finished last year’s Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League regular season 20-20-2 and were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Peninsula Panthers.
In other news, the Generals are reverting back to their stylized star with the upper case G in the centre as the logo on their uniforms this season.
Looking ahead, Demerais makes the point this weekend’s camp will determine the face of this year’s team.
The Gens take to the ice at Oceanside Place for a Skills on Ice session from 7-7:30 p.m. then return for their first inter-squad game from 7:45-10 p.m.
Saturday morning sees a goalie session from 9 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. followed by another inter-squad from 10:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Dry-land runs from 3-4 p.m., and the players are back on the ice from 6-8:30 p.m.
Some players will be let go Saturday evening, and the remaining hopefuls will lace up for the final inter-squad game on Sunday from 10 a.m. – 12: 15 p.m.
The Generals will be playing an exhibition game in Nanaimo Friday, Aug. 31 against the VIJHL’s newest team, the Nanaimo Buccaneers, being coached by Brad Knight.
They open the VIJHL regular season on the road Friday, Sept. 7 in Campbell River and then return to Parksville Saturday for their regular season home opener against the Storm.
The Generals return to the ice at Howie Meeker Arena Sunday for their third game in three days for a matinee game against Peninsula Panthers.