Several weeks ago, Cochrane Generals head coach and general manager anticipated 40 players would be trying out for the junior club this season.
That number grew to 60 with a waiting list, which meant an adjustment to the camp schedule and moving it to the Cochrane Arena.
Associate coach Erik Krigel, who headed up the camp with goalie coach Matt Greenham, says the scouting and recruitment undertaken in the late spring, early summer paid off. Holding the camp earlier than in the past didn't hurt either.
After the three-day main camp that finished with a Blue and Red game on Sunday afternoon, about 29 players remain, including all six over-agers.
"We've got such a strong group here that it's going to be very difficult to make decisions to get it down to the 23 or 25," says Krigel. "The returning players are fired up to go, the new guys that have come in are all fired up about the program; everybody's just ecstatic to get going."
The toughest decision will be which of the over-agers will be returning. They're only allowed to keep four, and so far one has been cut.
Now the team will be practicing on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the SLS Centre in preparation for the pair of exhibition games against the Wetaskiwin Icemen.
The Icemen are here on Sept. 2 for the Gens first game at the SLS Centre since departing for the Cochrane Arena for the 2019-20 season.
"We're pleased with the group we have, and we're striving to have a very fast-paced, aggressive physical game this year," says Krigel.
Krigel says the team is also excited to have recruited Connor Stephenson as a new assistant coach. Stephenson was an impact player for the club until aging out in the spring.
"He was a very hockey-minded player who leads by example," says Krigel. "He doesn't take anything less than 100% effort from his teammates and I believe that's going to translate well into his coaching, so we're happy to have him onboard."
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