Almost 90 prospects take part in three-day event at PRC
By Pat Payton
The building process has begun for St. Marys Lincolns.
Lincs committed to several talented players at their spring prospects camp at the PRC this past weekend. Lincolns are rebuilding with youth, and the Hockey Operations staff is hoping these young players will all play key roles as the Western Conference team looks to change its fortunes.
“All in all, it was a very positive weekend,” assistant GM Greg Smale told the Independent. “We’ve identified probably eight or nine kids who we feel can jump into our line-up next year and make a difference.
“Obviously there is work to be done. The cards (from the OHA) don’t come out until June 1. We want these kids to be here, and hopefully they want to come to St. Marys.”
Smale was impressed with the overall calibre of player at the spring camp.
“A very talented group of players showed up this weekend,” he said during scrimmages Saturday. “There is a lot of skilled players and the games have been exciting to watch. There is a lot of good young kids out there, who could have a future here.
“On June 1, we can start putting names to paper. That’s when we’ll officially start building this team.”
Almost 90 prospects
A total of 87 players registered for the three-day weekend camp. The prospects were divided into five teams for scrimmages. Initially, Lincolns were expecting enough players for four teams, but the number kept growing as the camp weekend approached.
“Hard work paid off,” Smale said. “Everybody contributed, from the coaching staff to the scouts to the hockey operations guys. It’s pretty amazing when you think that a ninth-place team has this much support.”
This past weekend, Director of Hockey Operations Jim MacEachern looked for players who were willing to compete.
“Because we’re going to be young, we’re looking for guys who can skate and will compete,” MacEachern said. “I know it’s only April and it’s a prospects camp, but we’re looking for guys who stand out from their peer group. Hopefully we can move them on to our main camp (starting in mid-August).
“We’re staying true to what we’ve said. We’re going to ice a young team. Talent is obviously very important to us, but we’re looking to change the culture here. When you put on a Lincolns’ jersey, we want you to compete — win or lose. It’s something we feel very strongly about. The talent will come, but if you’re not willing to compete and want to win on a regular basis, then maybe this is not the place for you.”
Players who can skate
New head coach Trent McClement was looking for certain characteristics as well.
“I’m looking for guys who see the ice really well and have good foot speed,” McClement said. “I think foot speed in Jr. ‘B’ is huge, players who can create a little separation. I like offensive, smart players. Defensively, I’m looking for body position and defencemen who can also skate. This league is fast and if you can’t skate you’re going to get lost out there.
“If we have a team that can skate and works hard and competes, we’re going to be fine. That’s what you’re looking for in a camp like this. You see those things and they separate players from the pack.”
Both MacEachern and McClement estimated that 20 to 30 players from the weekend prospects camp will be invited to Lincs’ main camp in August.
“You want to get them to the main camp and mix them in with the older guys and see what they have against the 19 and 20 year olds,” McClement said.
At Saturday afternoon’s information session for prospects and parents, the coach said the Lincolns want to build a team with “character” and “team-oriented” players.
“That’s how you win championships, with everybody buying in,” McClement said. “We’re trying to turn it around, but we want to turn it around the right way.”
Prospects camp notebook:
–Prior to Sunday’s Green and White game, Lincolns paid tribute to the Humboldt Broncos organization with a minute of silence as the players formed a circle at centre ice.
Current St. Marys players also collected donations from the fans, with those proceeds going to the Broncos.
–Former Lincs Dan Schiedel (Green) and Dan Murrell (White) coached the two squads in Sunday’s fast-paced Green and White game. White won 3-2 on goals by Michael Andrews, Ryan Murray (shorthanded) and Griffin Wilson. Scoring for Green were Blair Butchart and Dylan Vandersleen.
Three St. Marys minor hockey products–defencemen Jack Lucas and Connor Aarts and goalie Jake Bryans–were selected to play in the G&W game and all performed well. Local referee Chad Petrie officiated the game.
–Lincolns have added a new video coach, Jordan Paola, of Kitchener-Waterloo.
–Eight members of the Legion Minor Midgets, all 15 year olds, skated at the Lincs’ prospects camp this past weekend. The overall calibre at this year’s spring camp was impressive. Kudos to the Lincolns’ hockey operations and scouting staffs for putting on one of the best April camps in many years.
–Dryland drills for all players were held on the Rock rink Friday night. The drills were conducted by members of Bob’s Fitness Studio.
–Caledonia Corvairs and Listowel Cyclones have advanced to the 2018 Sutherland Cup final. The best-of-seven series started Wednesday. In the semi-finals, Caledonia swept wild card Elmira Sugar Kings 4-0, and Listowel eliminated London Nationals in six games.
–Lincs hope to play five exhibition games this fall, MacEachern says.