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Kings ready for main camp as season approaches

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If it doesn’t seem real yet, it will this weekend.
All 12 Manitoba Junior Hockey League teams will open training camps this weekend.
Most teams recently hosted prospects camps with similar numbers, so they have an idea of what to expect.
“We’re looking at being around that number (40),” said Kings head coach and general manager Doug Hedley.
“And it will be run very similar, with a skill session and then a mini-games, three-on-three, four-on-four, until we play the JoFo Cup on Sunday.”
About a dozen players from the prospects camp will compete for a roster spot in the main camp, pushing the number up to about 40 players,
With numbers being limited, Hedley said every player in camp will have a chance to make the hockey club.
“They’re that good. We really think that it’s a deep camp with very good talent up front and on the back end,” he said.
The Kings enter the season with high expectations.
Reigning league MVP Grady Hobbs is back for his fifth season and will lead the offence along with Nakodan Greyeyes. They finished second and third, respectively, in league scoring last season.
Cole Dekoninck led all defencemen in scoring last year with 62 points, good for 10th in league scoring.
With high expectations comes pressure to succeed, but Hedley said it is a good pressure.
“When you build a program, if you want to be competitive every year, you try to stock the cupboards with some talented kids. We think from our ‘05s right to our 2000s this year, we got a very good depth chart with some good talent coming up throughout the years,”he said.
“This is the year we’ve been working for. Our 20-year-olds are our best players right now. And anytime you get your 20-year-olds as your best players, you’re going to be competitive. And then, obviously, we want the 18s and 19s to contribute. But the key is to have good talent.”
Hedley expects to have four to eight goaltenders in camp fighting for two spots.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, fans will not be allowed inside Credit Union Place for the main camp or the JoFo Cup. But you can watch the intrasquad game for free on Hockey TV.
The Kings will play three preseason games, beginning, Sept. 21, at home against the Swan Valley Stampeders.
The Kings will be in Portage, Sept. 30, and host Neepawa, Oct. 3.
All three games begin at 7:30 p.m.
Teams have been split into three divisions for this season. Dauphin is in the Northwest Division with Swan Valley, OCN and Waywayseecappo.
The first four games of the season will be against the Wolverines, beginning, Oct. 9, in Dauphin.
Teams will play four games over two weekends against teams in their own division. The reason, Hedley said, is if someone gets COVID-19, only two teams will be affected.
The Kings will play the rest of the teams twice, mostly home-and-away. The only exceptions are the newest team the Winnipeg Freeze, who the Kings will play in Winnipeg, Jan. 1 and 2, while the Selkirk Steelers will play in Dauphin twice to end the season, Mar. 12 and 13.
The playoff format will be announced at a later date.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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