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Get ready for some (KIJHL) hockey as Leafs open training camp Wednesday

The Nelson Daily Sports
By The Nelson Daily Sports
August 27th, 2011

By Bruce Fuhr
The Nelson Daily Sports

In spite of the beautiful weather happening in the Kootenays, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season is just around the corner.

The Nelson Leafs commence its run to the 2012 KIJHL title with training camp beginning Wednesday at the NDCC Arena.

“It’s going to be a wide open camp,” admits new coach Frank Maida, beginning his run as head coach of the Good Ship Leaf.

“I haven’t seen any of the players play so this is a great opportunity for new players to show me what they’ve got.”

It’s not that Maida doesn’t like hockey.

He just decided to take a full season away from the rink after assisting former Leaf coach Simon Wheeldon for five seasons behind the Leaf bench.

Maida’s first camp at head coach begins Wednesday at the NDCC Arena with registration and fitness testing.

The players then take to the ice for their first chance to catch the coaches’ eye.

Thursday has two ice sessions.

Friday, the players have a morning skate before heading to Fruitvale for a five-team exhibition tournament with teams from Beaver Valley, Grand Forks, Spokane and Creston.

“I believe it was (Beaver Valley coach) Terry Jones who came up with the idea,” Maida said.

The teams play a round robin with only 15 skaters on each team. There’s a 15-minute warm up before the teams skate for a 60-minute game.

“I really like the (mini-tournament),” Maida confessed.

“Instead of seeing the players up against (soon-to-be) teammates, we get to see them against other team’s players.”

“We also get a chance to referee a game, coach from the bench or watch from the stands,” Maida added. “We’ll definitely be doing a bit of all three ways to gauge the players.”

Having taken over the Heritage City franchise from former coach Chris Shaw in July, Maida hasn’t had a lot of time for recruitment. So expect a small number of players, between 20-25, to take to the ice next week.

“We have five players coming returning that I know of and the rest are attending (B.C.) Junior A camps,” said Maida.

Returning players that are confirmed include defencemen Tyler Parfeniuk and Blake Arcuri, forwards Colton Malmsten and Dallon Stoddart and goalie Andrew Walton, traded to Nelson from Fernie for Braeden Hikichi.

ICE CHIPS: Nelson’s exhibition season consists of a home-and-home series against Castlegar Rebels. The teams open September 7 in Nelson (7 p.m. start) before returning to the Sunflower City for game two (7:30 p.m.) . . . . The Leafs and Rebels also hook up to open the regular season with game one in Castlegar Friday, September 10. The teams return to the NDCC Arena for the back half of the home-and-home, Saturday, September 11. . . . Maida announced Stuart Linnen as an assistant coach for the upcoming season. Linnen recently helped with the Kootenay Major Midget program. . . . Maida also said former NHLer Greg Andrusak will help out on a part-time basis. . . .The lack of players is mainly due to BCHL clubs shifting their training camp from this weekend to the Labour Day Weekend. Trail Smokies are hosting its training camp this weekend but teams like Vernon and Westside have decided to push camp back a week.


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