Hockey season is not far away for the midget Battlefords Stars, who held their fall camp over the weekend at the North Battleford Civic Centre.
Over 50 players started out at training camp, all hoping to gain a spot on the team for its upcoming Midget AAA hockey season. After the three-day camp ended the Stars had pared the roster down to 25 players going into pre-season action in September.
Head coach Martin Smith was happy with how the weekend went and the effort put in by the players.
"I was very happy with the talent," Smith said, noting the tough decisions he had to make.
The team expects to have a veteran lineup for next season. Smith said the team has seven returning forwards from last year, two returning defencemen and two returning goaltenders, he said.
Smith said he wanted to go into the exhibition season with a smaller roster of players, so that the team will be ready when regular season play starts. There are "not a lot of spots to fill, so I want to make those final decisions during or after the exhibition season," said Smith.
One of the big question marks upcoming will be what happens with Colby Cave, a standout from last year's team who may play at the major junior level next year. Cave has been drafted by the Kootenay Ice of the WHL, and will be going to camp there.
"We won't know for a few weeks whether we will be getting Colby back," said Smith. If he makes the Kootenay roster, that will be one of the roster spots the Stars will have to fill.
Camp ran from Friday until Sunday. The players were divided into three teams - Team Red, Team White and Team Black -- that did battle against one another in nine short matches during the weekend. There were also Powerade Shootouts at the end of every scrimmage on Friday and Saturday.
On Saturday night following the second day of camp, the Stars made first round of cuts, and two teams of 18 players - the Blacks versus the Whites -- each took to the ice for a morning game at 9:30.
Following the game was a second round of cuts, leading to the final intra-squad game between Team Black and Team White at 3pm. The two teams had been trimmed down to rosters of 17 players each for that game. It was a chance for players to impress coach Martin Smith and solidify their spots on the Stars roster.
In that game the Black team took a 4-0 lead in the first period on two goals by Dallan Walker, and one goal each by Colby Cave and Colby Daniels. In the second period Justin Lynd scored for the White team, but Cave scored again to make it 5-1. Jaryd Watson rounded out the second period scoring for the White team for a 5-2 score after two.
In the third Ryne Keller wrapped up the scoring for the Black team while Carter Amson scored two goals for the White team, to make it a 6-to-4 Black team victory over the Whites. Tyler Cockburn and Regan Santoro were in net for the White team, with Blair Mahon in net for the Black squad.
Smith said he was really impressed with a number of performances over the weekend, including Blake Young and Reece Fenrich who played AA Midget last year. "They'll be welcome additions to our team," said Smith. As well, he was impressed with the showing of Eric Pfeifer who played with the AA Barons last year.
Those three will make the team, Smith said. As well, Robin and Regan Yew really impressed at camp as well, he said.
The battle for roster spots is far from over: next up are five pre-season games, including two home games on September 16 against the Blazers and Sept. 22 versus the Contacts.
Smith said the Stars will begin practicing August 31st for the pre-season, with their first game in Saskatoon on Sept. 11 versus the Contacts.
The team's roster must be finalized before the start of the regular season on September 25. Every SMAAAHL team is allowed 20 players.