The Sherwood Park Crusaders are ready to gear up for another season, and from head coach and general manager Tim Fragle’s point of view, hopes are high for the local Junior A squad.
The team’s annual main camp will run from Friday, Aug. 17 to Wednesday, Aug. 22, with both returning players and hopefuls taking to the Sherwood Park Arena ice.
According to Fragle, there’s a good core of recruits coming in that fans may be wanting to keep an eye on.
“We’ve got some defencemen that we signed in the 1994 and ’95 age group — Brandon Roonie, Ben Carroll, Mitch Cunningham,” he said.
“Those are the guys that are being looked at for the future in the back end. Hopefully they’ll come in and show that they’re ready to play.”
Fragle is also looking towards what he believes to be a strong list of prospective forwards from the ’94, ’95 and ’96 group.
“A couple of guys to highlight, maybe, at ’94 would be forward Arthur Gordon, at ’94 as well, Sean MacTavish — those are some guys at that age group,” he said.
“Then in the ’95 group, we’ve got Ryan Crouper, who’s a local kid, Fraser Bulbuc, who’s local as well. Duncan Edney is a good ’95 prospect for us, too. We feel like we’ve got a lot of depth and we’re really happy where we’re sitting right now.”
It was also recently announced that former Cru backup goalie Adam Weersink was traded, as he was looking for more ice time and Fragle is intent on giving starter Matt Tomkins the majority of play between the posts. Weersink was only with the Cru for one season, brought in from the Olds Grizzlys.
As a result, a position has opened up in front of the net for the Cru. Although Jacob Suppes has been pointed to as the new backup to replace Weersink, Fragle said there are some strong prospects who will duke it out to be the new netminder.
“We’ve got a real good crew of goaltenders coming to fight for that spot,” he said.
“We’ve got Jacob Suppes, who’s a local kid, that will be vying for that spot, along with Damian MacKinnon and Ryan Mork.”
Fragle continued: “We also have a ’95 goaltender by the name of Connor Goudreau and another kid, Max Cathcart. We’ve got like five goalies who are really going to be competing for that one spot, so that will be an interesting battle to see how that plays out.”
Although there are many prospects being eyed as main camp kicks off once more, Fragle said the camp is equally as important for returning Crusader veterans.
“They’re fighting for an opportunity for where they fit on the depth chart,” he said. “Obviously for some of them, we could have had them for a year or two already, so we know where they fit. But if they come in and have a good camp and really push the envelope, then they’re fighting to get more minutes over the other returning
“That’s kind of the way I sold it to them. I said, ‘You come in, you make a good impression and you’re better than some of the other guys, well then you’re going to get that opportunity right out of the gate, because you’ve shown that you’ve done your work and you’ve shown that you’re ready to go.’ That’s the kind of battle we see with some of our returning guys that’s happening. We’re already excited to see where they’re at, as well.”
Pre-season will start immediately after training camp for the Cru, with exhibition games against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and the Spruce Grove Saints on Aug. 24 and 25, respectively. Both games will be played at the Sherwood Park Arena at 7 p.m.