PLAYERS START ARRIVING FOR CAMP
There is no reason for Ontario Hockey League teams not to be excited with training camps opening up over the next three days.
The waning days of summer and the approaching new season feed the excitement for all 20 of the league’s teams, none more so than the Kingston Frontenacs, who have seen a handful of players report early, three days before the team’s camp officially opens at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.
“This is a fun time for the kids. There’s a lot of excitement throughout them and the coaching staff and management side of it, too,” Frontenacs general manager Doug Gilmour said.
“It’s exciting just the energy alone with (the players) bringing that excitement.”
Gilmour said the anticipation towards the season is quite a bit different compared to the past couple of training camps.
“Two years ago it would have been a little different. Now they are excited to be there. They know the players we have here,” Gilmour said.
“There’s a lot of difference, too, (from last year) because we kind of know what we have coming in. Especially because last year with the young guys really putting it all together. Now we have a couple more new guys and other things to go with it.
“It’s fun times and that’s what the kids see and that’s huge.”
He pointed to the team’s newest acquisition, Corey Pawley, as an example of the anticipation players have for Kingston’s season.
“Here’s a kid who is so excited to be traded here. You figure he might have been down a bit because he was playing for a real competitive team (London Knights) and almost in his back yard (Pawley is from Sarnia) but he is not,” Gilmour said.
“He’s jacked. He’s pumped and that’s what you want.”
The Frontenacs are being regarded as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
“I think that is the biggest thing. (The players) know coming in this year we are going to be very competitive,” Gilmour said.
“We feel that we are a pretty solid club all over.”
However, Gilmour said it will not be a training camp void of battles for positions.
Particularly up front where the team’s top two lines are pretty well set — Sam Bennett, Spencer Watson and Henri Ikonen as one unit and Ryan Kujawinski, Billy Jenkins and Sam Povorozniouk as another — while the third and fourth lines will be settled through the team’s five exhibition games.
“Guys are fighting for jobs, too. I think that’s the biggest thing. (Spots) on that third and fourth line, it’s a dog fight but that’s the good news. Competition is good. I think we are all excited about it,” Gilmour said.
“We know that what we have here and where we can go and what we can do. “
Warren Steele, Jean Dupuy, Mikko Vainonen, Marc Beckstead and Darcy Greenaway were some of the early arrivals at camp.
Gilmour said several more players would be around by Tuesday and Wednesday
Ikonen, the team’s leading scorer with 51 points in his rookie season, is coming in Wednesday night. He is staying in Finland to attend his grandfather’s funeral.
Among the decisions to come out of the scrimmages Friday and Saturday will be how second-round draft pick Kris Myllari and his family size up the chances of the 16-year-old cracking Kingston’s lineup.
Gilmour said the decision will come down to the Myllari family.
“We feel he is very, very close. If they feel he is ready (then) he’s got a spot,” Gilmour said.
“Obviously we want to see him come in here and have a good camp. We’d like to get him under contract and then if he wants to play in Nepean or wherever, that’s OK.”
Myllari played Sunday for the Kanata Stallions of the Central Ontario Junior Hockey League and picked up two assists in a 5-2 win over the Trenton Sting of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Sophomore defenceman Dylan DiPerna will be watched with intrigue by the Frontenacs.
“We are excited to see Dylan and see what his projection is now,” Gilmour said.
“We felt he made big strides at the end of last year. We feel he is going to continue that way and he’s going to be a big force on this team in the future.”