After extensive fitness testing, three intense practice games, and one final inter-squad showcase game, the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League have trimmed their pre-season roster down to a more manageable list of approximately 25 players.
With 76 players coming to Canmore to attend the weekend’s training camp on Aug. 22-25, Eagle’s Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Manage was a busy man spent countless hours consulting with Assistant GM and coach Jeremy Reich, head scout Jason Rycroft, and another six veteran Eagle scouts to identify the best players for this year’s Eagle’s team.
“It was one of the most competitive camps we’ve had in years,” said Milne, following Sunday afternoon’s 6-3 victory by Team BLUE over Team White in the club’s annual Blue- White Inter-squad challenge. “I was very impressed with the talent that came to this year’s camp and we had to make many difficult decisions. At the end of the day, I think our returning veteran players all showed up in excellent shape and we also had a bunch of very promising rookies who pushed the veterans very hard.”
Of the 15 returning veterans, Milne had special praise for Luke Simpson, Bryan Arneson, Connor Wilson and Simon Philp.
“Both Simpson and Arneson probably had 10 points in their three practice games, Wilson scored extremely high in the fitness testing, and Philp looked like he has completely recovered from his hip injury that kept him out of our lineup for most of last year. We need these guys to contribute offensively for us this year and they all looked like they were primed and ready to roll.”
On the backend, Milne also saw great promise in three new rookie defenceman as newcomers Brett Schimmel, Jacob Lavoie, and Canmore’s Roman Melzer all looked ready to step into the lineup on any given night.
“We lost three defenceman from last year’s team, so it was certainly a position that needed to be addressed and I’m happy with what I’ve seen from these new players so far,” said Milne.
Rookie forwards who also caught Milne’s eye at training camp were a couple of Notre Dame College graduates Brett Radford and Lane Olson, plus Jaden Sveinson, Ryley Risling, and Kurt Hildebrand.
NOTEBOOK: The Eagles will play their first and only home exhibition game on Tuesday, August 27 against the Calgary Canucks. Game time at the Canmore Recreation Centre is 7 pm and admission is just $5 across the board. Look for both coaches to ice rookie-laden rosters as they need to examine their new recruits . . The Eagles will then head to Calgary for a mini-exhibition tournament at the Max Bell Arena on the Labour Day weekend with games scheduled against the Calgary Mustangs (Aug. 30 – 3 pm), Calgary Canucks (Aug 31 at 7 pm) and Olds Grizzlys (Sept. 1 at 1 pm). . .Canmore will open their regular season schedule with three straight home games versus the Drumheller Dragons (Friday, Sept. 6), the Calgary Canucks (Sat. Sept. 7) and the Calgary Mustangs (Friday, Sept. 13). . . . The Eagles are still in need of a few good billet homes for their new players. If you have a spare room and can accommodate a young hockey player from Sept – March, please contact Monique at firstname.lastname@example.org. Billet families receive free Eagle season tickets, a $350 monthly stipend and 10% off groceries at Sobeys. . . .Don’t forget the 17th Annual Canmore Eagles Golf Tournament set for Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course. The entry fee is just $129 and includes 18 holes of golf, golf cart and BBQ dinner. Contact email@example.com to register