By Dan Walton
The roster of contenders is narrowing down as the Columbia Valley Rockies 2013 Main Camp has given the coaching staff a good idea of how next seasons team is going to look.
We have a fair number of tough decisions to make to cut down to a manageable number before the start of the season, Rockies head coach Ross Bidinger told The Pioneer. But were planning on being one of the stronger teams in the division and in the league this year, so there will be other teams the players can potentially go to.
The Main Camp was held between Friday, August 9th and Sunday, August 11th at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena in Invermere. Following ice drills on Friday night, players were divided into three teams and demonstrated their skills through a series of scrimmages. After 130 came to try out for the Spring Camp in April, last weekends camp was a slim 40 to 45 players.
Its the ones who we thought had a chance to play Junior B hockey, plus the ones who are trying to move forward to Junior A, he said.
Because some players are still hoping to qualify for a more competitive league, the Rockies will have to make some conditional offers when moulding next seasons team.
By the end of the weekend well have guys well commit to, but nothing can be set in stone, Mr. Bidinger said.
About 10 to 12 players from last year are expected to be a part of next seasons lineup, which has 23 spots plus two slots for goaltenders.
Its a really competitive market to try and get these guys, he said, adding that social and geographic issues can cause talented players to try out in other markets. Because of how close Invermere is to the Alberta border, the ban on importing more than eight players from outside B.C. is a big speed bump in the way of recruiting talent into the Rockies.
Mr. Bidinger said improvement from last year will be most noticeable among the defensive unit.
Players are evaluated on their demeanour on and off the ice, how they handle sudden puck turnovers and, according to Mr. Bidinger, onevery little thing. All the coaching staff whos involved notice different things.
About 25 to 30 players will be called back for the week of August 26th, with exhibition games beginning the following weekend. The Rockies will also debut their new third jersey to be worn at special home games in the upcoming season.
The first Rockies exhibition game on home ice takes place on Tuesday, September 3rd against Golden.