The Princeton Posse held their first spring camp in many years at the Princeton and District Arena during the weekend of March 28-30. The camp was an incredible success. It brought in some revenue for the club, and the town, whose local establishments benefited from the many families that were in attendance. But more importantly to the Hockey Operations department, it showcased some future talent that may dawn the cream and maroon this upcoming season.
This season expectations will be much different for the Hockey Operations Staff of Bill Rotheisler and Mark McNaughton, which will see some change itself with the departure of Dave Clare, and the incoming of whomever his successor will be.
With a good core of returning players this season, the Posse have had the luxury of having a staff in place in the offseason to pay much more time and attention towards their scouting and recruiting department and are looking to surround that core with more talent, meat and ultimately, more wins.
General Manager and Head Coach Bill Rotheisler commented, “The foundation (returning players, organization) is in place for building and moving forward. We were patient with the on ice product (last season) as it was important to establish and mould the overall character of the team, including the culture in the dressing room.”; Rotheisler continued, “We made allot of in-season roster moves last season, which makes it tough to establish consistency in our play, but the pieces we brought in were invaluable for the long term plan. This season will be focused more on improving our team now, in the offseason, to allow some continuity in the lineup during the season, and build our on ice game.”
If the camp was any indication of the seriousness of the GM’s words, then it appears the plan is going as well as planned. With only three teams, but of almost all handpicked and invited participants (a rarity in the spring camp culture), the quality of players and tempo of play was nothing short of impressive. As we have seen with this now not-so-new coaching staff is that they demand a certain tempo in their games, which is evident if you have ever taken the time to catch any of the Posse’s practices which are almost always open to the public. Even in the 2013-2014 rebuilding season fans were witness to some exciting well played games that saw a very young team come up on the short side of more one goal differential games than a world cup soccer event. Too bad that extra time could not be added!
Associate Coach Mark McNaughton weighed in on the camp: “(I was) very happy with the talent, and the job the organization did in making sure things were seamlessly professional. Our veteran players that attended were exceptional leaders and there has been a lot of positive feedback from the camp”. When asked about the overall Posse plans, McNaughton reiterated the organization’s vision, “we had some skill last season, and have skill coming back, but what we have said as an organization many times in our meetings is that we need to be tougher to play against. We have to have fun playing the game, but it doesn’t mean the other team has to”.
In the theme of finding players that can handle a tough grind, and the long season that everybody is hoping and planning for, the staff put together a gruelling schedule that had up to seven (7) games in less than 38 hours for the players. Many interesting scenarios occurred that could lead to a lot of speculation of about the club next season. Highlights of the games included Posse record holder Eric Kubis making a return on the Princeton ice, fan favorite Curtis Sexsmith, ex-Posse Josh Mack working behind the bench with G Spencer Huff, KIJHL vet Bradley Palumbo (with permission form his current team), the size and talent on the back end including towers Trent Redschlag (Kelowna) and Scott Robinson (SISEC), the top scoring trio from Burnaby Winter Club and the surprises of tier 3 point producers in Erik Dion (Winfield) and Rick Mack (Quesnel). In addition, Posse vets Eden Dubchak and Treveor Pereverzoff participated in the camp along with local talent in Craig Thompson, Tristan VanderMeulen, Parker Thibert and Michael White.
Also present in the camp was the noticeable logo on the camp jerseys which will also be the players practice jerseys this fall, which saw the infamous posse horse in a clean and sharp looking circle. The logo caught a lot of people’s attention and got rave reviews. A statement from the Posse reiterated that the Official Posse logo remains the same; however, this may end up being used as an additional logo and ties in with the whole new era of the organization.
In conclusion, Princeton Posse President Dean Johnston expressed his views on the event. “What a great feeling in the arena to have the players, fans, volunteers and board members all contributing to make this camp run the way it did. A testament to the now sophomore group of directors, volunteers and staff; and what they are ready for this upcoming season. A big thank you to all who contributed”.
The Posse have already been hard on the recruiting/scouting trail. Many of their camp participants came from trips that included the tier 1 (Vancouver), tier 2 (Penticton) and tier 3 (100 Mile House) provincials, the Canadian Sports School Hockey League finals (Vernon) as well as the mainland and Vancouver Island. The Posse staff now embark on a heavy scouting month that will see Posse representatives in Merritt, West Kelowna, Moose Jaw and Boston.