The 2016 Alberta Jr B Provincial bronze medal winning Wetaskiwin Icemen hockey club are inching closer to the 2016/17 season as they host their main camp Sept. 3 to 5.
“We’re really excited about this year,” said head coach Rob Hartnell by phone Aug. 17. “I’m excited to see how far we can go with this thing this year.”
Coach Rob Hartnell noted the camp will include registration and fitness testing Saturday, along with an on-ice session. The next day, Sunday, will be another on-ice session,
Monday, Sept. 5 will see an exhibition game versus the Ponoka Stampeders at 6 p.m. The exhibition game will be preceded at 2 p.m. by an exhibition game between Augustana University and Red Deer College. Hartnell noted the games are open to the public.
Hartnell said the Icemen are lucky to have 15 to 16 players returning from their excellent 2015-16 campaign, where the Wetaskiwin team was ranked #2 in the league and #3 in Alberta. There are six to eight spots open on the team and the coach said the team will be looking at prospects during the main camp.
He said the team is balanced and looks to remain competitive at a high level as the entire defensive squad is returning along with all the goalies. However, Hartnell said depth is something the team is anxious to improve. The issue became clear during playoffs last year, after the Icemen lost a key defenseman, that the team needed a deeper bench.
The Icemen are also looking forward to a challenging year, stated the coach, as their bronze medal finish last year means other teams will be gunning for them. Hartnell added that he’s also introduced a fitness challenge that will help give the Icemen that boost out of the gate when the season begins.
He stated roster decisions will begin after the first exhibition game is over.
The Wetaskiwin Icemen begin their 2016-17 season Sept. 16.