With their first exhibition game set for this Thursday, the Cowichan Valley Capitals were hard at work earlier this week when training camp officially got going on Monday morning.
“It’s time,” head coach and general manager Bob Beatty said. “It’s good to get going.”
The Caps have 30 players in camp vying for 22 roster spots. Beatty got his first look at the group during some informal ice times last week.
“We’re really happy with this group of guys,” he said. “They’ll have to compete for spots. I feel we’re a lot deeper than we’ve been in the past.”
Absent from the group are last year’s top two scorers as both Sean Harrison and Darien Craighead have opted to try out for U.S. Hockey League teams. Harrison, who led the Caps with 46 points (22 goals and 24 assists) in 58 games as a B.C. Hockey League last season, is in camp with the Bloomington Thunder.
Craighead, who was second on the team with 44 points (19 goals and 25 assists) in 42 contests, has signed on with the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Both players earned NCAA Div. 1 scholarships through their play with the Caps last season, Harrison with Union College and Craighead with Northern Michigan University.
If either or both should fail to make their USHL teams, they could end up returning to the Caps.
“That’s always a possibility,” Beatty said.
Also not in camp is forward Nicolas Carrier, who Cowichan acquired from the Nanaimo Clippers in the offseason to complete a trade last January for Ryan Coghlan. Carrier was dealt last week to the Carleton Place Canadians of the Central Canada Hockey League when he didn’t report to the Caps.
Among the new faces fans can look for this week are forwards Mackenzie Bauer and Ayden MacDonald, and defencemen Chris Harpur and Mitch Meek.
Thursday’s game in Lake Cowichan against the Powell River Kings will begin at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the Caps will be back at the Island Savings Centre to face the Victoria Grizzlies at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, they will visit the Grizzlies at Colwood’s Q Centre beginning at 2 p.m.