ESTEVAN - The defending Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champions were back on the ice this past weekend as they continue to get ready for the upcoming season.
The Estevan Bruins held their annual fall training camp on Saturday and Sunday. Approximately 55 players were separated into three teams for scrimmages on Saturday. Due to injuries and other factors, the number of players was trimmed to 40 on Sunday, with those players divided into two teams.
They had one scrimmage Sunday, and then the Black-Gold intersquad game happened Sunday afternoon.
Bruins’ head coach-GM Jason Tatarnic came away impressed with what he saw on the weekend.
“I thought the games on Sunday were pretty good,” said Tatarnic. “It came as expected. There were a couple nice surprises, but we were pretty happy overall with camp.”
He noted none of the injuries that occurred were serious, and they shouldn’t keep players from being ready for the start of the regular season in a few weeks.
Tatarnic was pleased with what he saw from the club’s returning veterans: goaltender Cam Hrdlicka, defencemen Alex Von Sprecken and Aleksa Babic, and forwards Cody Davis, Kade Runke, Mitch Kohner and Zachary Burns. Hrdlicka didn’t play Sunday.
“We wanted to concentrate on the other guys,” said Tatarnic.
Babic didn’t play and Von Sprecken moved up to forward Sunday because the club wanted to get a chance to see the other defencemen in camp.
It looks like the returning players had good summers, which resulted in strong showings at camp.
Tatarnic cited several rookies who stood out: Jeremy Fortin, a 2004-born forward from Quebec; Wyatt Sorken, a 2004-born forward from B.C. who spent last season with the Notre Dame Hounds U18 prep team; Matthew Ronn, a 2005-born defenceman who played last season with the Regina Pat Canadians U18 AAA program; and goaltender Jackson Miller, an 18-year-old local product who spent the past two seasons with the Estevan Steelhaus U18 AAA Bears.
“The first test was camp and the second test will be exhibition games when you’re competing against other players trying to make the hockey team. I think the intensity rises a little bit higher in the exhibition season, and that’s where we’ll make our final decisions.”
Sorken was a nice surprise, as he came in and had a strong camp.
The Bruins expect to start the season with Hrdlicka and Miller in goal.
The club currently has 28 players remaining, with 26 skaters and two goaltenders. Tatarnic anticipates the rosters will be further trimmed during the preseason.
Their first exhibition game is Sept. 3 against the Weyburn Red Wings, starting at 7 p.m. at Affinity Place. Then they will visit the Wings on Sept. 5; play the Waywayseecappo Wolverines of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League on Sept. 7 at the Ochapowace First Nations; visit the Virden Oil Capitals of the MJHL on Sept. 9 in Virden; and finally host Virden the following night at 7 p.m. at Affinity Place.
Estevan will open the regular season on Sept. 16 against the Yorkton Terriers at 7 p.m. at Affinity Place.