Things are being done a little differently at the Cowichan Valley Capitals’ 2017 training camp.
New head coach Brian Passmore, who assumed his duties in late July, hadn’t had a chance to see many of the players in action before camp opened on Monday, so instead of running drills, he has divided the group into three teams and is putting them through a series of intersquad games. Practices won’t start until Thursday, after lineups are posted for the Caps’ first preseason game in Victoria that evening.
“I haven’t seen all the players,” Passmore pointed out. “I’ll get more out of watching intersquad games. I’ll get to see them all this way.”
Camp got underway at the Island Savings Centre on Monday, with nearly 50 players battling for spots.
“Every kid showed up, so that’s a good start,” Passmore said.
The players in camp include eight returnees from last year’s team: goalie Adam Marcoux, defencemen Simon Chen, Nii Noi Tetteh and Marshall Skapski, and forwards Haydn Hopkins, Ty Pochipinski, Nick Wilson and Alec Zawatsky. There are also a handful of previously announced signings: goalie Yann Dery, blueliners Yuri Davis-Martel and Boo Grist, and forwards Caleb Franklin, David Laroche, Ethan Scardina and Azzaro Tinling.
None of them are guaranteed jobs, but they do have an inside track as Passmore assembles his team.
“The returning kids are signed players, and so are the players we’ve committed to,” he said. “I’ve never seen most of them play, so it’s a fresh start for everyone. Everyone is competing for a job, and that’s what we want to see. We will go with the best players that make our team the best it can be.”
Also of interest to local hockey fans are Dylan Hartl and Cole Broadhurst, Cowichan minor hockey products who spent last year with the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers; Brandon McClintick and Kayden Peck, who played last season with the Kerry Park Islanders; forward Cory Hatcher, who got into one regular-season game and two playoff contests for the Caps last year; Keenan Eddy, another Cowichan minor hockey product and former Islander who played junior A hockey last year in northern Ontario; and Kerry Park minor hockey products Noah Taron and Isaac Tonkin-Palmer.
The first intersquad game took place at 10 a.m. The coach admitted that the first few minutes were “a bit sloppy” and things tailed off toward the end.
“The pace picked up as it went along,” he added. “About 80 per cent of it was good. We saw lots of compete. We went over with the kids what we expect from them, and we saw a lot of little things we liked.”
The players all showed up in good shape, ready to play physical hockey, Passmore said.
“They looked like they’ve been training all summer, or on the ice at least,” he related. “It was 7-4, so there were some goals scored, some great saves. All around it was good play.”
Passmore said he and the rest of the coaching staff want to give the players in camp “every opportunity to get to know who they are and what they can do.”
“So far, we’re impressed with how they’re carrying themselves and what kind of shape they’re in,” he added. “We want to see decision-making, guys finishing checks, we want to make sure we put forward guys who are showing they deserve two or three looks in exhibition games. We told them, ‘Do what you need to do to get noticed.’ If you try to be too fancy, that will make you look worse sometimes.”
Intersquad games will continue this week, followed by exhibition games against the Victoria Grizzlies in Victoria on Thursday and in Duncan on Friday at 7 p.m. The Caps also host the Powell River Kings on Sunday at 2 p.m., the Nanaimo Clippers next Tuesday at 7 p.m. and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs next Thursday at 7 p.m.
“It’s good to get started,” Passmore said. “It will be a quick week.”