Some 32 bodies hit the ice Tuesday, Sept. 6 for the first of three nights of the Kitimat Ice Demons annual tryouts. The defending Coy Cup champions are counting on having a significantly better start to their season than last year – and a good turnout of veteran players, newcomers and a couple of returnees gave coaches Barry Boudreault and Mike Steponavicius a good indication that there will be plenty of competition for starting spots on the Demons in the club’s 10th anniversary season.
The Ice Demons host the Prince Rupert Rampage in Tamitik Arena for the opening game of the 2011-12 season on Saturday, Oct. 1.
While several regular players missed the opening night tryout skate due to work commitments, it was good to see a couple of returning Coy Cup veterans on the ice, including former Ice Demons captain Chris Vilness, Scott McGregor, a regular for many years who injured his shoulder and missed all of last season, while attending school.
Another returnee was former defense stalwart, Justin Bogaert. Yet another interesting returnee was goaltender Brandon Highton, a Kitimat player, who played in goal for the Demons in the teams first two seasons, but progressed to junior hockey, college and professional hockey in France.
There were a number of regular players on the ice limbering up, including current captain Derek Wakita and other long-time clutch players Blaine Markwart, Jeff Mildenberger, Jeff Baker, Craig Hewitson, Terry Whelan, Daniel Mayer, Nick Markowsky, Kory Finn, Brett Vilness, Jonnie Aiken, Ryan Baker and Kyle Boudreault as well as several representatives of the youth movement that helped rejuvenate the Demons in the second half of last season, including Wade Masch, Josh Slanina and goalie, Kollin Alderman, who played well last season and backed up regular goaltenders, Jamie Moran and Brett Vilness.
In addition were a number of KMHA grads among several younger hopefuls, most of whom can expect to get a very good look from the coaching staff through this weekend’s inter-squad game and future practices, leading up to the exhibition Northern Challenge Cup series at the end of the month, involving Kitimat Ice Demons, the Terrace River Kings, Smithers Steelheads and Prince Rupert Rampage.
Although early in the new playing year, these exhibition games will give the CIHL a good look at the level of competition at the western end of the league territory.