The hot, mid-June weather was no deterrent to the dozens of hopefuls who took to the ice at Waterloo’s RIM Park for the Wellesley Applejacks’ first prospect skate of the summer.
“It went pretty well,” said the Junior C team’s head coach, Brad Gerber. “We got really good numbers out – we had 46 skaters. It was a great turnout for the one night. We were out there for two hours and it looks really good for the future.”
Gerber says there were quite a few skaters signed up that showed a lot of promise.
“Out of the 46, I think there were seven guys that had played for us last year, and you could obviously tell they played junior level hockey before,” he said. “But there were some, 16 and 17-year-olds, that looked really good. They are young yet, but maybe a year or so away from playing with us. Other than that, there were definitely a few that looked pretty good.”
The skaters were split into two teams for the prospect skate, playing a regular game so coaches and scouting staff could see how they played in a team setting.
“We had the referees out and we treated it like a game,” said Gerber. “We had 20 skaters on each team and three goalies on each side. It was a full bench, and we had lots of ice time for everybody.”
Gerber says staff is looking for players with the, “complete package.”
“We look for all the tools to make a good hockey player, obviously,” he said. “We are looking for size, maturity, strength, playing with or without the puck, and stuff like that. We look for team players, and all of that. It is sometimes hard to find, but you never know when you have that many prospects out on the ice.”
He says there are things that players need to have before they hit the ice wearing the Applejacks jersey.
“Once we get the team picked, then we start working on team play, as far as power plays, penalty kill, forechecks, stuff like that,” he said. “We look for somebody who can skate and keep up in the league. It is a fast league and it is also a physical league, so you have to have that size.”
Next up, staff are going to be comparing notes on the players that came out for the prospect skate, and making some notifications.
“We will all sit down together and from there we will be sending letters out to the players that we want to have at the main camp,” he said, referring to the Wellesley Applejacks training camp on Aug. 20 in St. Clements. “Before we know it, main camp will be here. It comes up pretty fast. Everybody wants a summer break, but it ends quickly.”
Neither a pre-season schedule, nor a date for the season opener has been announced. Keep an eye on the team’s website for updates.