By CHRIS DOBROWOLSKI firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Hounds already have a good base of players for the upcoming season, but the relocated Midwest Junior Hockey League team will be looking at potential candidates to fill out the roster when it hosts a two-day training camp Friday and Saturday at Centre ICE.
Between 30-35 players are expected to take part in the camp, which originally was going to be an open event, but became invite-only due to the high number of commitments the Hounds have already received. About eight players will be back from last year’s team that won the MJHL regular season title and the Veterans Memorial Cup playoff championship and the team has signed about a dozen more to tenders.
“We’ve got quite a few returning players from last season,” said Traverse City head coach Scott Gardiner. “In the offseason we went out and acquired guys we definitely wanted. So now we’re sitting in a pretty good position. The last few spots that we fill we’re going to be pretty picky about filling those positions. I would say about seven spots are up for grabs right now.”
Ice time for the camp will be limited to three one-and-a-half-hour sessions over the two days.
“We know the guys coming in. That’s why it’s invite-only,” said Gardiner. “We’ve seen them before and we can always invite them back in September. In September when we bring everyone back we might bring in 28 guys to battle for the 24 to 25 spots.”
Gardiner said the team knows exactly what it is looking for out of the prospects it is bringing in to the camp.
“We like to move the puck. Last year we had a very offensive team. We’re looking for guys that fit that,” he said. “And not only that, but we realized a little bit of our shortcomings when we went to nationals and we lost in the semifinals to the eventual champion. We want to get back to the big dance this year so we’re looking to get a little bit bigger and a little more grit to our lineup, a little bit tougher. I think we’ve added that.”
Check-in begins at 5 p.m. on Friday. The camp also will include a pair of meetings for parents with coaches and Lester Griffin, the team’s Director of Hockey Operations. The camp concludes at 6 p.m. Saturday with a players/coaches meeting.
“We feel pretty good right now. We’ve got a real good base to build on. Now we can be a little bit picky and wait and find the right fit for our team,” Gardiner said.