By JAMES COOK
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Hounds have a full team.
After the Junior A team’s first invite-only camp over the weekend, the squad emerged with 12 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders.
“We’re sitting pretty good right now,” Hounds coach Scott Gardiner said. “We’ve gotten most of the players we went after.”
Two of the top players Gardiner signed out of the camp are goaltender David Krejci — who shares a name with the Boston Bruins star centerman — and forward Dallas McLaughlin.
Krejci is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound goalie from the Czech Republic who has been playing Juniors over there. Former TC Enforcers defenseman Jan Prusa — now a player agent in the Czech Republic — steered Krejci to play for Gardiner, his coach in the now-defunct Continental Elite Hockey League.
“It’s kind of neat,” Gardiner said. “A guy that played for us is now sending us players. That’s great.”
McLaughlin (5-7, 160) is somewhat slight in frame, but not in game. He has 44 goals and 91 points in 68 games for Sault Ste. Marie in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League the past two seasons, with a short eight-game stint on the North American Hockey League’s Soo Eagles this season as well.
“He’s going to be a big, big player for us,” Gardiner said. “He’s not that big, but the kid can just fly and score goals. He’s going to be one of the top players in the league, for sure. He’s really going to fill out a top line and do a lot for us.”
The 32-player camp was divided into two teams for the Centre ICE event.
“This camp was different than any other I’ve done,” Gardiner said. “Usually, they’re always open tryouts. And this one was a closed, invite-only training camp. It was nice. We had everybody there that we wanted.”
That included six veterans from last year’s Midwest Junior Hockey League champion Hartland team — Gardiner moved the Hartland franchise to Traverse City — that have moved on to Division 3 hockey. It also included all the players the Hounds had already signed.
The team reports on Sept. 9, taking a break while the Detroit Red Wings hold training camp at Centre ICE from Sept. 12-17 before the Hounds’ season starts Oct. 4 at Berkley. TC’s home opener is Oct. 11 against Alpena.