Parkland U18 Rangers main camp began on Friday afternoon with fitness testing followed by two on-ice skill sessions during the evening inside of Credit Union Place.
On Saturday, the camp continued to roll on with a mini round-robin that began at 11:00 a.m. and wrapped up just before 7:00 p.m. The players were split up into three teams, each of which will play each other once leading up to the championship final which will be played on Sunday afternoon.
The final game of the night saw Team Black come back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Team Green, 7-5. Kyan Grouette was a leader on Team Black alongside Brayden Kohlman who played on the team last year.
Camp included returning players Rylan Gibbs, Steven Arp, Jayce Legaarden, and Keaton Ziprick, just to name a few. Newcomers included Brayden Dube, Carter Zalischuk, and Grouette, all three of which played on the U15 Rangers last season.
Rick Freese is coaching this year's team alongside Tyler Carefoot and he had this to say on day two.
"I think things went really well, guys came prepared and you can definitely tell who put in the work over the summer," said Freese. "There is some serious competition and I really liked the last session that we had."
Sunday could be the last day for some players as the Club will look to trim its numbers down ahead of the exhibition schedule and eventual regular-season opener in mid-October.
"The bottom line is that these players have no choice but to be a little more intense on Sunday compared to Saturday," offered Freese. "They have to become a bit more intense, a bit faster, and grittier out there. It's going to be an exciting day."
After taking part in Kings main camp earlier this month, Keaton Ziprick will look to provide this year's team with what he did last year after he was named a second-team all-star. He faced 1205 shots last season and he also made 54 saves in a 2-1 win against the Winnipeg Wild in what was the Rangers' biggest win of the campaign.
"Zipper had a good day. He started off a bit slow and then improved throughout the day. He's looking good out there," said Freese.
In case you missed it:
The Manitoba AAA U18 Hockey League needed to clear one more hurdle to begin the new season and they have successfully cleared it. The league has received approval from all necessary levels and the season will officially begin on Friday, October 16.
The Rangers; meanwhile, will begin their season on Saturday, October 17 as they're in Thompson to play the Norman Northstars. They will also play Norman once again on the Sunday afternoon to wrap up the first weekend of the season.
Each team will play 36 games this season and the Rangers will be in the West Division alongside the Yellowhead Chiefs, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Southwest Cougars.
"Yeah, we're really looking forward to getting the season going. Starting in Norman is a positive for us because we'll get on the road and all the guys can spend time with each other and it's a good way to bond to begin the season," ended Freese.
The Rangers preseason will begin with a pair of games against Norman on October 3-4 in Swan River at the Centennial Arena.