The Orillia Terriers Jr. C hockey club is set to return to the ice this weekend for training camp.
“It will be the first time we are back on the ice since December. We are super excited,” says Terriers general manager Andrew McDonald.
With a feeling of uncertainty still looming in the hockey community due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Terriers are expecting the best local hockey players to stay home this year to try and make the team.
“This is a really good year to be a local hockey player as far as the Orillia Terriers go,” McDonald said.
Only seven players are returning from last year’s squad that was limited to playing a handful of exhibition games against local opponents.
“We are super proud to lose a minimum of six players from our younger group last year to higher levels. Four of which have already signed Tier II Jr. A cards, and one has a college deal in the U.S.,” McDonald explained.
“We want to lose players every year, it confirms that we are accomplishing our goal of building a development team and work with younger players that aren’t quite ready to make that jump to Jr. B or Jr. A.”
While the pandemic provides the Terriers with an opportunity to work with the best young talent in the area, there are also some challenges. This year’s training camp requires the Terriers to practise with reduced numbers, players must be masked in the arena when off the ice, there is no access to the showers, and players are not able to linger around the arena.
“To be honest we are just happy to be back, and to be building a team that should be scheduled to play real full-contact hockey on Oct. 1,” McDonald said.
This year’s Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) season is expected to be reduced by six to eight games, but other than that, things should be back to normal, said McDonald who is expecting this year’s Terriers team to be the best in recent memory.
“With our commitment to development, coaching, ice time, and fitness, we should always expect to be competitive now. The players we have returning our bloody good vets, so we are relying on them to help the younger guys to find their way in the league,” he said.
For players who would like to attend camp, registration closes Friday at noon. It costs $150 and players are guaranteed three hours of ice time and two hours of fitness evaluations.
“Even if a player doesn’t make the team, every player will get an education session where we will tell them what we liked and what we want them to work on to see them back next year,” McDonald explained.
“Get on our radar because we are devoted to young talent. If we get some young guys coming out that aren’t quite ready and don’t make the cut, we will be keeping tabs on them as we are also looking for (affiliated player) positions.”
To join the camp, you must be 16 to 20-years-old. To register, click here.