For many of the players who took to the ice on Thursday and Friday at Mosaic Place, their future as a player with the Moose Jaw Warriors is still a year or two away.
But that didn’t stop the 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds from giving it their all during the Tribe’s annual rookie camp, with plenty of impressive plays, hard hits and, yes, even a fight or two.
They might not be Warriors this year, but they were showing they darn well wanted to be in the future.
“They’ve done a good job, obviously it was a long day for them yesterday and they played last night as well, but they still came out and competed hard,” said Warriors assistant coach Scott King after the second rookie scrimmage on Friday morning. “They know it’s going to be a tough 48 hours and that’s what you’re looking for. So it’s been a good start.”
The players went through fitness testing alongside the team’s veterans on Thursday and then played the first game then went through a series of short practices before the first official scrimmage that evening. Despite what had to be a bit of exhaustion, the players have still played at an impressive level.
“There’s lots of skill out there, you can see there’s some real good players out there and it’s a matter of them developing a little bit more and learning a bit more and some fine details of the game,” King said. “But overall there’s a lot of skill out there and a lot of these kids have a bright future.”
While some players will get the call to take the ice in main camp beginning Saturday, for most — especially the 15-year-olds who were part of this summer’s WHL Draft — it’s a matter of just getting a first look at what it takes to be a Warrior.
“The big thing is they get to come in and get some experience and they get to be around some of the older guys, especially when it comes to the fitness part of it,” King said. “You get to see a guy like Tanner Jeannot and how big he is and it leaves an impression on you when it comes to that level and what it takes to be a player at the WHL level.
For them to come in and be around the guys and see how they handle themselves, that’s a lot they can take away from that.”
Impressively, the youngsters have also shown a surprising amount of calm when it comes to playing at such a high level — even though some have a chance to make the team if they’re at they’re best, there seemed to be a little outright nervousness.
“You tell them at the start of camp to just relax and do what got you here, play the game you’re capable of playing,” King said. “It’s just like anything, there’s always a little bit of nerves but I think for the most part they settled in and played hard. It’s been a good start and we’re looking forward to what lies ahead.”