Newcomers and veterans alike were impressed at the Carrot River Outback Thunder Fall Camp this past weekend.
About 25 players came to the Prairie Junior Hockey League team’s Nipawin event to demonstrate their skills for head coach Trevor Logan and his staff. Some potential Outback Thunder Junior B players are still at Junior A or midget AAA camps.
“I was pleased with the pace the guys practiced and played at as well as the progress I see in our 18-year-olds who are back as 19-year-olds this year,” Logan said. “The newly signed 18-year-olds also have solid potential.”
The head coach will get to see how his new squad looks against PJHL teams in the exhibition Curtis Ross Memorial Tournament. The Outback Thunder are slated to play the Regina Silver Foxes and Fort Knox in Fort Qu’Appelle – both on Sept. 24. The tournament is named for a former Fort Knox player. The host squad is coached by former Thunder bench boss Randy Cuthill.
Carrot River opens the PJHL regular season on Oct. 6 on the road against the Saskatoon Westleys. The next night the Outback Thunder hosts the Saskatoon Quakers at the Carrot River Arena.
Last season a young Outback Thunder team laden with rookies posted a 17-16-7 record and finished fifth in the PJHL’s North Division. The Outback Thunder beat the West Central Rage 2-1 in the North Division Survivor Series and fell 4-1 in the North Division semifinals to the Saskatoon AGI Insurance Quakers.
Like much of last year’s team, the majority of players trying to crack the roster for the upcoming season hail from northeastern Saskatchewan. Over the past year or so, the Outback Thunder organization has focused on providing a place for players from the region to develop their skills and continue to play the game they love.
The Outback Thunder will have between 12 and 14 players returning from last season’s squad. The team will also include some other familiar players as it has inked four affiliated players from a season ago.
On the bench, Logan is back for his second season along with assistant coach Rob Holoien, a former Junior A player. The team has added Landon Belchamber as an assistant coach and J.C. Heck will also help out the team. A Carragana product, Belchamber is a former Melfort Mustangs Junior A player. Heck played Junior A in Alberta and Manitoba. Former Thunder assistant coach and general manager Chris Beaudry was named the Humboldt Broncos’ assistant coach and business manager over the summer.