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Rangers take first look at 2017-18 prospects

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When it comes to sports teams, there is always reason for optimism at the beginning of a new season.
But following an evaluation camp at Credit Union Place this past weekend, there is a real anticipation of the good things to come for the Parkland Rangers in the 2017-18 Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League season.
The success the Rangers enjoyed in the second half of last season, combined with what he saw on the ice this past Saturday and Sunday, has Rangers head coach Brad Dupasquier chomping at the bit to get going.
“Overall I think there is a lot of potential, as far as new faces in camp and the veteran presence,” Dupasquier said, adding it was nice to see the number of familiar faces in camp.
“Last year we had 15 guys who had never played AAA before. This year there is a possibility of getting 13, and more realistically 12 back. Mark Liwiski is in Everett and the hope is he stays in Everett. But we have a very good core and are much further ahead than last year.
“Overall I think our veterans look very, very good. Some guys have obviously done some work in the offseason. Some guys look quicker and stronger.”
Of course with junior A teams slated to begin their training camps next week the future of a lot of those veterans is up in the air, Dupasquier added.
“We have approximately 15 guys who will be off to camps,” he said.
Dupasquier said the trend seems to be for the MJHL to keep getting younger and younger, which makes it difficult to predict which players he will have to work with this season.
He hopes many will return.
“As far as development goes, kids and parents need to take into consideration that sometimes it is much better to be the guy at AAA midget and learn how to win and succeed rather than being in the stands or being the sixth defenseman or 13th forward in junior. But who knows?”
The big question mark right now for Dupasquier is goaltending with none of the goaltenders in camp really standing out.
“We have four in camp right now with the possibility of another one coming next week from out of the region and one who actually has poison ivy right now and can’t come this weekend. He played Bantam AAA last year,” he said.
On the rest of the ice, Dupasquier is pleased with what he is seeing from veterans and rookies alike.
“If we do get eight forwards back there is going to be four spots open. It is going to be a tough go to make decisions for those four spots for sure,” he said, adding just like at the junior level, player development has to be considered when keeping or cutting a young prospect.
“It is not always just straight up this kid might be a little more talented. It might not be good for his devleopment to be a fourth line guy, because not everybody is a fourth line guy.”
But however, as things shake out, Dupasquier is certain the Rangers will have a successful campaign.
“They learned how to succeed last year. That is something you put in the bank and you take that experience out and you use it later on when you need to call on it,” he said.
The Rangers held their annual intrasquad game Sunday, as a part of the camp. Team Black downed Team White, 8-3.