A talented crop of players hoping to be part of the Neepawa Natives roster, hit the ice in Brandon this week, for the club’s annual young prospects camp. Fifty-eight players, including the MJHL team’s 2016 bantam draft picks, participated in the event on Monday, July 4 and Tuesday, July 5.
Day one of the camp was held at Enns Arena, inside the Keystone Centre, while day two was hosted at the Canada Games Sportsplex. The two days, which were sponsored by Peak Performance and Athletics Centre of Brandon, were an opportunity for coaches, scouts and management to evaluate players from the team’s protected list and decide which ones warrant a closer look at the team’s training camp, scheduled for late August.
Neepawa Natives head coach Dustin Howden said he liked the effort and skill that was displayed by the hopefuls out on the ice.
“It’s been good. The guys have been working very hard. The tempo has been very good and the skill set that’s been on display has simply been great. Overall [coaching, scouting staff and management] is quite pleased with the results,” said Howden.
General manager Myles Cathcart concurred with Howden’s assessment and added that he noticed improvement in several players, who were a part of the club’s previous camps. He said it was good to see the youngsters take the advice given to them to heart and use it to improve their skill set.
Cathcart added that the level of participation from players who were a part of the 2015-2016 roster was also a real positive, as they were able to give some guidance to the hopefuls.
“To have the veterans out there on the ice as well, serving in a way, as coaches to the prospects, was really nice to see,” Cathcart said. “Leading by example like that is very important and it shows that they’re just as committed to the success of the team as [management and coaching staff] are.”
Many of these players will continue to work through the summer in preparation for the fall camp, which will occur at the Yellowhead Centre in Neepawa. Pre-season for the MJHL will begin on Sept. 5, while the beginning of the regular season has been scheduled for Sept. 23.