The Drumheller Dragons hosted their 2016-17 main camp this past weekend (Aug 26-28) at the Memorial Arena. It was attended by a handful of veteran players (Andrew Kartusch, Xavier Burghardt, Slater Dykema, Evan Rochowiak, Trygve Many Guns and Evan Tschumi) as well as many new, young faces that the Dragons have recruited over the past year.
On Friday morning, all 36 players reported to the arena and quickly moved into fitness testing at the Badlands Community Facility. Most of the players had done fitness testing back in June at the Dragons Combine Camp, so this weekend’s testing was a chance to see how they improved. “The players all improved immensely from their last testing, which definitely made the coaching staff happy,” said head coach and GM, Brian Curran. “I can tell you from watching the test it was tough but I will also say that these kids pushed themselves hard and as you watched you knew they were prepared.”
After testing, the players hit the ice for their first practice which was fast-paced and high-intensity. Coach Curran was pleased with how hard the players worked. After a break, the two teams of 18 played Friday night at 7:00pm. “The game was very competitive and for a first game it was quite physical,” noted Curran. “It was a little scrambly at times but the boys worked hard and after an intense morning and afternoon I was pleased that not one of them took a shift off.”
Saturday and Sunday, the players were introduced to the Dragons’ new off-ice training program, which was nearly two hours of very intense fitness. The players began to understand that playing for the Dragons would be physically demanding and would require a lot of hard work and commitment. “No matter what happens this year,” said Curran, “our players will be in great shape this season.”
Both Saturday and Sunday were concluded with a game, and the Dragons’ coaching staff were pleased once again with the players’ hard work.
“I think our scouting staff did a great job and although we are a young team, our veterans showed a lot of leadership and led their teams in a solid battle for their first weekend together,” said Curran. “Overall the camp went really well, and we are all looking forward to an exciting season that our fans and community can enjoy and watch grow.”
After the weekend, the Dragons’ coaching staff let several players go. The team will practice for a couple days beginning Monday, then head off to Okotoks on Wednesday to play in the annual AJHL exhibition tournament. After the tournament is over, the Dragons’ coaching staff will have to drop their roster down to 25.
The Dragons first home exhibition contest is on September 9 vs. Lloydminster. Their regular season home opener will be on September 23, preceded as always by the Home Opener Tailgate Party.