After spring camp was a roaring success this past weekend for the AAA Stars, almost their entire roster has been selected and they won't bother with a fall camp for the 2017-18 year.
Eleven goaltenders, 34 defenceman, and 63 forwards showed up from all over Saskatchewan for the three-day camp, which has left head coach Norm Johnston extremely excited for next season.
"The kids that came competed really hard because we had open spots and at the end of the day, the decisions became extremely difficult," Johnston said. "We've been phoning kids since I left [Regina], Feburary 18, until I got here, doing reference checks on the what the kids have been doing. And because we had open spots, they competed. The competition was really good."
Johnston was hired as the interim head coach of the AAA Stars in mid-Feburary after the team let go then head coach Jean Fauchon. Although Battlefords went 1-7 under Johnston and the team missed the playoffs for the first time 2012, the club decided to bring back Johnston shortly after the season ended when he was their top candidate of roughly 15 who applied.
Because of Johnston's long history behind the bench in multiple cities across the province (including stops in Flin Flon with the Bombers and Regina with the Pat Canadians), players showed up this past weekend from all over. Some were from big centres like Saskatoon and Regina, some from smaller cities like Prince Albert, and others from communities like La Ronge and Onion Lake.
Johnston said the reason for the competitiveness and great turnout was because the team did a good job of casting their net wide and letting everyone know there were spots available.
"When we talked to kids, we told them we had open spots and we didn't commit to guys," Johnston said. "We told kids that they had a good shot at making [the team]. Some guys we said that to, didn't make it.
"There are some kids [who tried out] that I think can play AAA midget and I'm going to make some phone calls to other teams and see if they have open spots so they can find some place to play. It was really good."
Johnston said it wasn't the numbers that were better than camps he's been a part of in the past, but the talent and competitiveness. The fast pace began right away with practices on Friday.
"We've always had 4-6 teams but I don't know if we've had it that competitive," he said. "[Assistant coach] Lee [Ulmer] and I went on the ice on Friday for six hours and did the practices and showed them what the pace was like...so they pushed the pace really hard. I thought it was really good."
Standing out at camp, which isn't surprising, was Adam Beckman, who led the team in scoring as a 15-year-old rookie this past season with 41 points in 44 games. Those 41 points were top-20 in league scoring overall, regardless of age.
But there's another solid addition for this team, as Edam native and former Prince Albert Minto Ty Mosimann attended camp. Mosimann, who just turned 17, put up 38 points in 44 games for the Mintos last season.
"The only struggle we had is guys playing against Beckman," Johnston joked. "Ty Mosimann out of Edam from P.A., he's going to play. He's another really good player."
The full roster won't be revealed for a little while, but Johnston did reiterate there is no need for a fall camp.
"I don't believe in having a fall camp for money making [purposes]," he said. "I want my team done. They came, they paid once, it's time to go home and have some fun for the kids.The kids, they don't have to keep coming back to camp, to Battleford. We're done. We picked our team."
The season will begin for the team with practices on Sept. 3.
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