Around 100 young prospects hit the ice at the Yellowhead Arena this past weekend, looking to make a lasting impression on the management and scouting staff of the Neepawa Natives. The Manitoba Junior Hockey League team hosted its annual spring evaluation camp from March 25 to 27. Draft eligible players, as well as members of the club’s 50-man protected list and several walk-on players participated.
Neepawa Natives general manager Myles Cathcart said the team was very pleased with what it saw out on the ice this past weekend, in terms of talent.
“It was a good camp. Our numbers were good. There was a very positive vibe around the community and around the rink. The talent level was very good. There were a lot of young players, but also a few older ones out there. It was a good mix of [draft eligible players] to older players,” said Cathcart. “It was a lot of work to put together, but we were happy with the response.”
An ongoing part of the camp, which has been very well received, has been the exit evaluations. These sessions involve the players sitting down with staff from the MJHL club and discussing elements of their play they could work on and suggestions for the best way to improve or refine their game. Cathcart said the response to these honest player examinations has been very favourable.
“We’ve been doing this for years. It’s been 10 plus years now that we’ve done something like this, at least. We give the players feedback. Honest evaluations of what they can improve and what they’ve done. We give them lots of ice time to show their skills. You want to make sure that it’s a developmental thing. That these players can improve. Whether it’s a kid that’s on our [protected list] or if it’s a kid who’s not on the list, it’s something they want and something they really appreciate,” noted Cathcart.
Though the spring camp has come to a close, things will remain very hectic for the hockey club over the next few weeks, as they go through their notes and make a few decisions on who they’d like to get another look at. Cathcart said another camp, involving just the 50 top listed prospects during the summer in Brandon, will be the next important opportunity.