Thunder training camp to take place this weekend
As Airdrie Thunder Head Coach Cam Aplin enters his second season behind the bench, he is hoping to build off the experience he acquired during his rookie year.
“It was a learning process for our players as they learned about our expectations, and it was a learning process for me as a coach as I learned about the players,” Aplin said. “We were up and down during the regular season, but we played well in our first round series against Red Deer, which we lost in six games.”
The preparations for the 2013/14 Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) season will get into full swing this weekend, as the Junior B team will hold their annual training camp from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.
“We have a number of holes that we will be looking to fill, and this camp will give us a chance to bring in some young talent,” Aplin said. “I saw some of the younger players during our team’s three-on-three tournament on Aug. 17, and I really liked what I saw from those guys there.”
The exact number of players taking to the ice for the training camp was still being determined as of press time, but Aplin is expecting the final numbers to be similar to what he saw last year.
“We had about 26 skaters at the start of camp, and I think we will see a few more guys coming from Junior A camps as we progress over the next couple of weeks,” Aplin said.
“That’s why it’s always hard to say how many guys will be at the camp, because it’s really up in the air until we know how everyone does at the Junior A camps,” he added.
Two of the top rookies from the Thunder last season were at Junior A camps this past week, as left winger and Calgary native Tyler Perkins was trying out for the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and centre Gavin Klien of Calgary was looking to make the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).
At least seven players from last year’s Thunder squad will not be returning to the team for this campaign.
“As of right now, everything is up in the air as to if they will be at our camp or not,” Aplin said. “We would love to see them make the teams that they are trying out for, but at the same time, we would be happy to have them back for another season.”
The training camp will get underway on Aug. 30 at 7:30 p.m., with on-ice sessions scheduled for 12:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 31.
Two more practices will take place on Sept. 1 at 11:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., with the team’s annual red-and-white game concluding the camp on Sept. 2 at 4 p.m.
“We want to put the players through a bunch of skating drills and in game situations this weekend,” Aplin said. “The drills will be the focus of most of our practices before the red and white game, but we will have some scrimmages on Saturday and Sunday night.”
The Thunder will kick off their exhibition schedule on Sept. 6 at the Ron Ebbesen Arena, when they will play host to the defending HJHL champion Okotoks Bisons at 8 p.m.
The regular season will get underway on home ice on Sept. 20, when the Cochrane Generals come to town.