Jeff Bosch thinks a little competition is a good thing.
Not that the Lakehead Thunderwolves goaltender is in any danger of losing his spot on the hockey team. But he liked what he saw Monday as training camp opened at Port Arthur Arena.
With 30 players on the ice and coach Bill McDonald warning that not only are no jobs guaranteed, but in all likelihood a player or two from last year’s squad might not make the grade this season, a little pressure on the veterans never hurts, Bosh said.
“I think it’s a little bit of a wake-up call that you might make the team, but with the numbers we have this year, whether or not you’re in the lineup will be dictated by how you do in practice and how you’re playing on the ice,” Bosch said.
“With those numbers, we didn’t have them last year and I think this year it’s a little different. I think it should be motivating those guys, and if it’s not, then it should definitely be.”
Mike Hammond, in the running for the team captaincy, said it’s a big motivating factor, whether you’re a veteran confident of your place on the team or a walk-on.
You’ve got to be on your game at all times because there are plenty of eyes following your every move. And a coach like Bill McDonald doesn’t miss much.
“Everyone’s got to fight for a spot every night, so it’s got to keep guys motivated,” Hammond said.
Former Thunder Bay North Stars forward Trevor Hynnes is among the hopefuls in camp, a walk-on trying to follow in the footsteps of Paul Thompson last year and make the team.
He’s not alone.
Other newcomers not hailed with press releases announcing their commitment this summer include the likes of goalie Eric Mann and Cary Brown, North Stars teammates of Hynnes, Karl Messinbird, Kevin Galley, Nick Soskop, Robert MacDonald, Mitch Marostica and Tyson Holder.
They join recruits Nathan Cull, Dylan Butler, E.J. Faust, Austin McDonald and Brennan Dubchak, the latter two joining their older brothers (Justin and Carson) in the hunt for a CIS national championship.
For Hynnes, it’s a chance to show off what he’s got, knowing he’s probably a long-shot to make the team. It’s all about making a good first impression, he said.
“Then it’s just working hard and doing all the little things right. You can’t go out there and make an end-to-end play every time. It’s just about doing everything right, hopefully catching an eye and work a spot on this team,” Hynnes said.
McDonald, who ceded bench duties to assistants Andrew Wilkins and Dan Bissonette on Monday as the team scrimmaged, took it all in.
Taking summer rust into consideration, he was generally happy with what he saw, particularly rookies Austin McDonald and E.J. Faust.
It’s all about doing the right things at this stage of camp.
“What I saw today was kind of what I expected with the guys we brought in. We obviously did some due diligence on them. They’ve got some quickness and it looks good … I thought it was a pretty good pace and highly competitive.”
McDonald said he plans to make his first cuts on Friday, but will likely carry as many as 27 or 28 players on the roster to combat injuries that plagued the team last season.
The Wolves open non-conference play at Fort William Gardens on Sept. 19 against the Mount Royal Cougars.
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