Vancan Outta The Blue


Wranglers camp day 2: key word ‘intensity’

Day 2 is in the books from Wranglers spring camp in 100 Mile House. The intensity, as many players I’ve spoken to have made mention of, has picked up. This has been reflected in tight scoring games where goalies have stood on their head and some players have made great individual efforts.

Reece Forman, a 100 Mile product who’s been playing Junior ‘A’ in Nipawin, Saskatchewan with the Hawks of the SJHL, says he’s here to not only get some ice time and grow as a person and player, but to be a role model for the kids. “I’m trying to keep the tempo up and show them the intensity it takes to be a junior hockey player.”

That doesn’t just go for the guys here who are at their first camp and in their first year midget. Veteran Wrangler d-man Kenny Nordstrom was absolutely gangbusters in his game yesterday, dominating with his puck possession and speed from the back end.

Asked if he’s playing up to their level, he says, “I’m playing up to their [Junior ‘A’ players] level easily I think. I’ve played for a couple years with some of those guys in major midget, like Jarvis, Harris, Forman a bit and Micky Turner. I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for, of course I want to play Junior ‘A’ but you never get your spot back here without giving 100%. You never know who’s going to be better than you, and so I expect it to get harder. Everyone’s tired but it’s going to get more chippy.”

Nordstrom, a Terrace native and 2011 bantam draft pick of the WHL Regina Pats, (10th round, 201st overall), says hes been bulking up in the gym since the playoffs ended in March.

Joshua Janzen, a Burns Lake Tier 4 player has some thoughts on big bodies.

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The Wranglers team bus parked outside the SCRC this weekend for show (Photo by Josh Hall)

He says they make this level, “a lot different from Tier 4.” Throw on top of that the great competition from a wide variety of players and Janzen’s first camp has been an exciting one.

He says, “the coaching’s been great,” and he sort of already had an idea how that would be going in because his brother Jaden Janzen was coached by Hladun for two seasons (2010-12) while in Princeton. What he took from Friday’s orientation with ‘Duner’ was that, “he’s going to be hard on us, no one gets off easy, everyone gets treated the same and he’ll be crazy hard on us if we don’t listen to what he says.”

The ’96’er was also very complimentary of the Wranglers players who are at camp stating, “It’s nice to see how they move the puck. They move it quick, nothing fancy, and get the puck on net. They’re tough on the stick and they crash the net.”

“I think I’ll be ready to step up if I get carded,” he continues.” I was following them all year because they were new, and the closest town with a Junior ‘B’ team, and it’s an amazing facility here too.”

Matt Fichter was next to step up to the mic. The ’97 says, “everyone’s calmed down a bit from the day one nerves. The rest of camp should be better.” Fichter missed on a penalty shot in one game but looked dangerous in other parts.

*Note: In games, they’ve been allowing penalty shots with a chaser as opposed to having a player sit two minutes.

Fichter played Tier 2 in Kamloops last season and says while junior is a whole other level from midget, spring camp is just a, “little bit higher competition. This makes sense considering the amount of midget players here yet to play more than a handful of games as an AP with a junior team.

“I really like the coach and have heard really good things.” The 16 year old played one game with the Chase Heat in December.

We spoke finally, at least player-wise, to Tyler Collens, who played major midget with the Thompson Blazers last season at just 15 years of age. He won’t turn 16 until August.

Believe it or not, this isn’t even his first KI camp, having attended the Sicamous Eagles’ camp two weeks ago. “The camps have been the same in terms of speed and intensity. It’s a big step from playing major midget last year. It’s more skilled, physical, overall just a step higher. I think right now I’m doing pretty good. I just have to keep it up and be consistent.”

When asked about what would happen if he was carded, he says, “I’d have to think about it.”

Finally, we got back around to the head coach Dale ‘Duner’ Hladun.

“I think it’s progressed because the kids are clearly getting more comfortable. There’s no dilly-dallying, and now that I’ve been barking at them a bit, the pace has picked up.”

The pace has picked up indeed but ‘Duner’ says, “I think the kids still have to lose some of their habits,like not paying attention or going to the wrong spots. That’s why I bark at them to get in the zone, its just something the young guys have to learn.”

With regards to the skills sessions, which stopped after Saturday’s morning games, “They’re about basic skills. I don’t care what fancy system you have, if you can’t pass 10 feet, we have a problem. Those are the types of core things we need to start with. It’s about skating, shooting, passing, and battles, and then we teach the game.”

I queried Hladun on which players have stood out for him and he divulged.

“I’ve liked the play of Prince George goalie Riley Druskin, Justin Bond [Williams Lake] has looked sharp, also a couple of Quesnel kids, and a couple guys who are just starting to grow on me.”

As for the some of the veterans on the ice, “Kenny’s good [referring to Nordstrom, Zimmerman looked good in the last session too. Sometimes guys don’t get it. They think ‘I played here last year, I’ll just come out and have fun at camp’ but these guys have come out and played hard so I’m happy.”

READ MORE: HARD-NOSED STYLE ‘MAKES ME WORK HARDER

READ MORE: WRANGLERS SPRING CAMP OPENS AT SCRC

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