HUMBOLDT — When SJHL hockey games return to the Elgar Petersen Arena, the Humboldt Broncos will be ready.
Last season, the Broncos were a young team. Only two 20-year-olds, Graysen Cameron and Logan Foster, aged out, leaving it open for many of the players to return.
“Hopefully some of these guys have taken some big strides over the summer,” said Scott Barney, the head coach. “For lots of them, it was only their first year of playing junior hockey away from home so some of them might have figured out some different things out over the season and over the summer.”
Barney said whether or not players do make a return will depend on the work they put in over the summer.
“I've told our players there's no excuses not to put in the work over the summer. You got lots of time to yourself,” he said, referring to the effects of the pandemic.
“We’ve given them programs for them to be physically ready for the season and now it's on them to put that work in.”
The head coach said he’ll give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but in the end, the best players will make the team.
The Broncos also made a few moves over the summer, including acquiring 18-year-old forward Quinton Hill from Weyburn, 19-year-old forward Chase Nameth from Lloydminster, 19-year-old defenseman Chase Felguieras back from Portage la Prairie, 20-year-old right-winger Austen Flaman from Portage la Prairie and 19-year-old forward Kolton Shindle from Portage la Prairie.
“We made a few moves here in the summer and we're going to see where we’re at there at training camp. Once the guys get on the ice, then we'll see which pieces we have to move out or which pieces we got to bring in,” Barney said.
The training camp will go from Sept. 4 to 6. Barney said the players should arrive Sept. 1.
“All of the Sask. born players are getting COVID testing at their home site,” he said. “All our players from out of province are getting tested in their own province plus when they arrive here, they’re getting tested before they get on the ice, so everybody's safe in the community, safe at their billet homes.”
For the camp, the team will bring in players from its list, some previous draft picks and 2004 draft picks that they had two years ago.
The camp has to be kept under 50, including the coaches and staff participating in it. Only 30 can participate in one ice session at a time.
Barney said the goal will be to have around 28 players selected Sept. 6.
Starting on Sept. 7, there will be a sort of extended training camp, where the players undergo development on the ice, off the ice and through video review so that when the Saskatchewan Health Authority makes a decision as to when the season can start, the Broncos will have a 25 player roster ready to step on the ice.
“We're excited about the season here coming,” Barney said.
“A lot of young guys that played last year hopefully took some big strides here over the summer and I’m looking forward to seeing all their progress.”