Approximately 110 prospects, including goalies, attended St. Marys Jr. ‘B’ Lincolns spring tryout camp this past weekend at the Pyramid Rec. Centre.
The prospects were divided into five teams for scrimmages on Saturday. There were eight one-hour games as all players were guaranteed three games.
Forty of the players were invited to play in the ‘Green and White’ game on Sunday afternoon.
Prospects came from as far away as Michigan, Kansas, Ohio, Sault Ste. Marie, Ottawa and Bracebridge.
Friday night was for goalies only. Eight of the 12 goalies were invited back for Saturday’s scrimmages. Helping with the goalie evaluations was Dave Rook, former goalie coach with the OHL’s London Knights who now works for the NHL’s Nashville Predators.
“A lot of the prospects are 1998 and 1999 birth years, so it is a young prospects camp,” Lincs’ co-GM Dustin Wenger said on the weekend. “We tried to get as many prospects out to look at as we could. That’s the story this weekend.”
Wenger estimates that about 10 veterans will be back from last year’s Lincolns team.
“Obviously we have to fill some spots,” he continued. “Half are roster is back, so there are a lot of openings on our team.
“And that is one reason our camp is so big. We want to look at as many kids as possible because of the number of openings we do have.”
Wenger says 25 to 30 players from the spring camp will be invited to the team’s main training camp at the PRC, starting in mid-August.
The GM says many of the returning vets will be signed very shortly, now that GOJHL teams have received their cards from the OHA.
“As far as new kids, we could also sign a couple of them this (past) weekend,” Wenger added. “If we can get the right kid, obviously we’d like to sign him right away.”
Four St. Marys minor hockey products attended Lincs’ weekend camp: goalie Kyle Morning, defencemen Haydn Favacho and Lucas Spence and forward Robert Clifford.
A “maximum” of 40 players, including returnees, will be attending the team’s main camp in August.
Junior hockey notebook:
•Former Lincolns’ forward Dan Bylsma (1986-88) was recently named head coach of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.
The 44-year-old Grand Haven, Mich. native comes to the Sabres after spending six seasons as coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. His record in Pittsburgh was 252-117-32, and was the winningest coach in Penguins’ history.
In 2008-09, Penguins went 16-8 in the playoffs en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 16 years. It was also his first year behind the Pittsburgh bench.
Penguins made the playoffs all six years Bylsma was in Pittsburgh. He was named the NHL’s coach-of-the-year in 2010-11.
After two seasons with the Lincs, Bylsma accepted a hockey scholarship at Bowling Green University in Ohio.
•Former Western Conference convener William (Bill) George Weir passed away last month.
The London resident held the position for 26 years, starting in 1986, and brought in many positive changes during his tenure.
The Western Jr. ‘B’ loop was the first to introduce the shootout format in 1994-95. Issues like hazing and the way clubs have been run were addressed by Weir and his board.
In 2006, the Western League’s playoff championship cup was renamed the Bill Weir Trophy.
In the past few years, Weir was often in St. Marys watching Lincolns’ home games.
•Tyler Canal is a new assistant coach with Elmira Sugar Kings of the Midwestern Jr. ‘B’ Conference.
Canal finished the 2014-15 season as interim head coach of the Stratford Cullitons after Phil Westman resigned Feb. 6. He guided Cullitons to the conference final.
Following the season, Canal was one of three men interviewed for the head coaching position. Cullitons decided to go in another direction and hired Stratford native and former Cullitons’ player Dave Williams, 40, as their new bench boss.
Cullitons have also hired former Elmira GM Paul Jennings as their new director of hockey operations.