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Kings youth shine in training camp

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Fewer than 30 players remain in camp for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Dauphin Kings following a weekend of practices, scrimmages and the annual JoFo Cup intrasquad game, Sunday afternoon.
Jaxon Heeney had two goals and Matthew Shatsky had a goal and an assist to lead Team Butch Goring to a 7-4 win over Team Barry Trotz in the intrasquad game, Sunday.
Grady Hobbs chipped in with a pair of assists, while Eric Erhmantrout, Sam Harris, Jack Oleksiuk and Tyson Kozak had the other goals for the victors.
Brady Weiss stopped all 12 shots he faced in the first period for Team Goring. Rory Campbell made seven saves on nine shots in the middle frame and Albert Adamsen also made seven saves on nine shots in the final frame.
Scoring for Team Trotz were Alex Cattani, Brandon Kochen, Broddey Richards and Mark Ziobro.
Parker Waseylenko started for Team Trotz and made 11 saves on 13 shots. Nick Jerris stopped nine of 11 shots he faced in the second period and Bob Parenteau had eight saves on 11 shots in the third.
Kings head coach and general manager Marc Berry was pleased with what he saw in camp, especially the play of the team’s recent draft picks.
“I was real happy with the whole weekend. With your main training camp and you have your draft picks in, mixing them in with your regular veterans guys, I was real, real happy with our draft picks from last year,” he said.
“I though they stood in there, they competed and they showed real well. For me, that was probably the biggest highlight. Now we start getting down in numbers and we start seeing the big boys play.”
The Kings had a young team last season with a number of first-year players on the roster. And even though they are still young, those players have a year of experience under their belt and will be expected to lead the way this season.
“They were the best players on the ice most of the practices and that’s what we expected,” Berry said.
The Kings have a number of players at Western Hockey League camps, notably goaltender Duncan McGovern (Medicine Hat), forward Ian Briscoe (Seattle) and defenceman Darren Gisti (Portland), as well as forward prospect Lynden McCallum (Brandon). Forward Graeme Hore is not in camp after requesting a trade. Berry said nothing has happened yet in that regard.
The biggest hole is in goal where they team has no experienced veteran. Berry was impressed with the four 18-year-olds trying out, as well as young Nick Jerris, who was selected by the Kings in this year’s bantam draft.
“I thought he had a great camp. He came in and getting shots from 20-year-old guys, it’s a little different pace for him,” he said.
“But we have something to start with here and we’ll continue to monitor and build from there.”
The Kings will carry between 26 and 28 players into the preseason, which began yesterday against the Swan Valley Stampeders.
After a weekend of getting back into the swing of things, Berry felt the intrasquad game was the best game of camp.
“Your first session, you’re getting comfortable. your second, third and fourth, you start amping up the intensity,” he said.
“It’s got to keep getting bigger and better and stronger. We want the intensity and compete level. Obviously now, it’s going to be a little bit better, playing against an opposition where your buddy is not sitting there. We’re expecting the competition and the hunger to rise even more.”
The Kings had the worst offence in the league last season, scoring just 145 goals in 60 contests. Berry expects that number to rise this season.
“I think we have a lot of talent that way. And, yes, our talent is young, but it’s also got a year’s experience under its belt. You look at guys like Kyle Oleksiuk and Riese Gaber and Brendan Arnold, it’s a big jump for them, but we’re excited to see what they do in year two,” he said.
Camp gave Berry a chance to test the chemistry of players in different line combinations and defensive pairings.
One defensive pairing that appears to be a lock already is rookie Ryder Richmond playing with veteran Riley Shamray.
“They showed some instant chemistry. For a first-year guy, Ryder had an excellent camp and showed he belongs here,” Berry said.
Other than the usual bumps and bruises, there were no major injuries to speak of.
The Kings and Stampeders will meet in a rematch, tonight in Swan River.
On the weekend, the Kings face the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Yorkton Terriers in a home-and-home, beginning Friday, in Dauphin at 7:30 p.m., with game two, Saturday, in Yorkton at 8:30 p.m., Manitoba time.
The Kings open the season on the road, Sept. 22 in Virden against the Oil Capitals. Virden is in Dauphin for the Kings’ home opener, the next night, Sept. 23, on alumni weekend. Prior to the 7:30 p.m. puck drop, there will be two alumni games that afternoon.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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