Estevan Bruins head coach and general manager Chris Lewgood expects a strong contingent of first year players will push the team's established veterans during the club's annual fall camp.
Sixty to 80 players are expected to attend the camp, which will run from August 29 to 31 at Affinity Place. The camp's schedule has yet to be finalized, but there will be scrimmages on the 29th and 30th.
The number of players will then be trimmed to around 40 for the Gerry Aspen Cup intersquad game on the 31st.
“There's a good group of guys vying for spots this year, with young guys trying to prove themselves, and make a name for themselves for years to come,” said Lewgood.
Among the prospects who will be vying for a spot on the roster are: goaltender Tyler Gutenberg; defencemen Mason Benning, Cody Durdle, Christian O'Dowd and Joshua Regier; and forwards Brad Arabia, Adam Canepa, Ryan Duret, Chase McKersie and Joey Ogden.
Benning and McKersie are local products, while Gutenberg is a former Estevan resident.
“We're pretty excited about the young group of guys that have signed with us, and we're looking forward to seeing them,” said Lewgood.
Most of the players eligible to return from last year's team will be back. The lone exception, as of right now, will be defenceman Kyle Bird, who was dealt to the Manitoba league's Dauphin Kings in early June.
The returning veterans are: goaltender Brett Lewchuk; defencemen David Robertson, Zach Douglas, and Nolan Nicholas; defenceman/forward RT Rice; and forwards Wyatt Garagan, Jason Duret, Keaton Longre, Keegan Allison, Chris Thorimbert, Conner McKenzie and Lynnden Pastachak.
“Not only do we have strong competition for the open spots on our team, but I think some of the young guys will be pushing hard in an attempt to replace some of the returning players,” said Lewgood.
Robertson, Rice and Garagan are the only returning 20-year-olds. Lewgood said they don't plan to bring in any additional 20-year-olds for camp.
Lewgood said McKersie will be attending the camp for the WHL's Regina Pats. Also at Pats' camp will be forward Darcy DeRoose, who spent parts of two seasons with the Bruins. DeRoose had eight goals in 14 games to start last season, before signing with the WHL's Everett Silvertips. Now DeRoose is trying to crack the Pats' roster.
If McKersie and DeRoose don't crack the Pats' roster, Lewgood said the Bruins would be happy to have them in Estevan.