After two days of practices and one scrimmage, things are starting to come together for the North Stars at training camp.
Head coach and General Manager Nate Bedford called last night’s scrimmage, the first of three this week, a “feeling out process” and said that’s to be expected.
“For a first night I thought it was pretty good,” Bedford said after practice on Tuesday. “We expect a lot more tonight and certainly by Wednesday the pace and the physicality need to increase if we’re going to do anything here.”
Bedford said there may be cuts after Tuesday’s scrimmage or after Wednesday’s practices, but he made it clear nothing is set in stone.
“I think [right now] it’s all about getting to understand what the players are going to bring and how much they want to play here,” Bedford said. “I have no pre-determined time on when we make cuts. We’re going to go day by day here.”
He did add the final roster won’t be named until close to the end of the pre-season because he wants to make sure as many guys as possible get a few exhibition game under their belt before a final decision is made. There are a total of six pre-season games, with the final two scheduled for September 9 and 10.
Eighteen-year-old Jeremy Velazquez, who committed to the North Stars earlier this month, said there wasn’t much of a difference between the pace of the scrimmage and the pace of practice.
That’s because spots are few and far between, and guys have to leave everything on the line. That may explain why there was a brief scrap during the second half of Monday’s scrimmage.
“It’s definitely high intensity,” Velazquez, who hails from a suburb south of Chicago, said after practice this morning. “All these guys are out here battling for a spot. You’ll never see a different level of competitiveness in practice or scrimmages when you come to these camps.”
Bedford wants the intensity level to keep rising as the week goes on. That way, the team will get used to his aggressive coaching style.
“I think our team is starting to get it,” Bedford said. “We talked about team toughness, both physical and mental, and I think we’re going to be a challenge to play against every night.”
Velazquez did mention though that Tuesday’s practice was lighter than on day one. Tuesday ended with team shootouts, something that wasn’t on the itinerary yesterday.
Although Velazquez didn’t find the back of the net in the shootout, it was a positive addition.
“Today was definitely better but still high intensity,” Velazquez said. “I heard a couple of our guys out there saying that yesterday we were close to puking, all of us.”
The second of three scrimmages this week goes Tuesday night at the Civic Centre at 7 p.m. The first of six pre-season game takes place this Saturday on the road against the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the AJHL.
Nathan Kanter is battlefordsNOW’s sports reporter and voice of the Battlefords North Stars. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @NathanKanter11
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