Well Day 1 is in the books at Nipawin Hawks training camp, and according to coaches Tyson Hobbins and Doug Johnson, the pace has been everything they've hoped for.
I had a chat with both coaches, first interviews of the year in person. Folks, I think what we have here, is a damn good team.
There was 9 '96s in the game, they all played well and I felt they all played with the intensity it will take to one day play at this level. Doug expects a couple more back throughout the weekend who are currently with WHL squads.
Here's some of the players I liked the most.
Reegan Santoro made 4 or 5 huge saves in the first period of the game. The last time I got to see a goalie stand on his head like that was... um... That answers it. This kid played for the Beardy's Blackhawks last year and he looks like he's ready to make the jump to Junior A. He was drafted by Chilliwack(now Victoria) in '09.
Justin Waskewitch seems to be the best skater on the ice. He can use his speed whenever he wants and he is smart with the puck and uses his speed up the boards, through the legs, where ever he wants. Made a few beauty blind passes but seemed as though they were well practiced. Makes the battles down deep look easy.
Levi Clark is a '94 born forward from Unity and despite playing small town hockey, you can tell this kid wants to play at this level. While his natural talent is there, it seems a little undeveloped but I can only hope Coach Johnson gives him a chance in exhibition.
Patrick O'Neill played Midget AAA in Edmonton last year and looks ready to succeed at the Junior A level. Scored a goal on a laser of a shot to tie the scrimmage up. Great skater that looks like he will get better every single day; very hard worker.
Davis Jones is well, Davis Jones. Shuttin' the door and closin' those legs. Team Green really liked to try to beat Jones in the five hole but they didn't succeed too much. He was rock solid despite allowing
Wheaton King will be a force to be reckoned with this year. He is strong on his feet and can use bursts of speed to make it up and over the line while leaving defenders behind him. Great stick work in the slot to direct puck in front of the net.
David Heath has been around the MJHL and now he's landed in Nipawin and fans will be in for a treat. Good, hard, crisp passer who can skate if he needs to. Liked that he was always thinking where his team mates were and never made the selfish play. One of the smoother backwards skaters I have seen, much like ex-Flin Flon Bomber Tyler Mah.
Reed Whitrow displayed excellent defensive ability and the smarts to be a Junior Hockey player. As a '95 he is one of the better younger players and he has the potential to be a high calibre player if he can work on his speed with the puck. His defensive strength was using his large frame in front of the net and clearing bodies. He also did a great job of getting a breakout going and getting his team deep in the offensive zone.
Tad Kozun came ready to play today. He also looked like he came to have some fun. Not many guys can move at that speed with the puck and still have a smile on their face. Created several chances and even got robbed on a penalty shot. Great speed through neutral zone, likes to cross through center dot. Can be a risky play but he is heads up all the way.
Jesse Roden has hair that will remind you of a bleached Jaromir Jagr and he plays nothing like him. But boy is he smart with the puck. Takes it to the right places, stays in smart positioning as a D man. Smart coverage in neutral zone, and always ready for the pass.