The Summerland Steam are poised to be a strong team in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
With up to 12 players returning, coach John DePourcq is excited about the fresh group of players potentially joining the core. Part of what has DePourcq feeling that way is the work put in by players in the off-season.
“There are some guys in great shape and put on some pounds,” said DePourcq. “It’s nice that so far the ones we were going after and recruiting in the off-season, they looked awesome in camp as well. Very, very excited with the camp and how things look so far.”
The Steam had five players from Whitehorse, N.W.T., attend including returnees Ryley Pettit, Wyatt Gale and Jarrett Malchow. They also had players from Fort St. John and Dawson Creek. DePourcq said they attracted more players from the north because of the experience that Pettit, Gale and Malchow had.
“They really enjoyed their season. Sometimes your best recruiting tool is your players. They have had nothing but great things to say,” said DePourcq. “It was a great experience for them. They are not only a very talented group of kids, but they are also very competitive.”
The Steam also had local players compete for roster spots. One who earned a spot is Michael McLean, a six-foot-four forward.
“Mike is just a great kid. Really looking forward to helping him with his junior career,” said DePourcq, of McLean, who is also attending the Penticton Vees camp.
The Steam plan to bring between 28-30 players into exhibition games, which will begin next week. The Steam play their first game on Sept. 2.
The Steam are off this week and return to the ice on Aug. 31.