There are still plenty of cuts to be made before the final Wellesley Applejacks roster is announced, even after their weekend prospect camp.
At the beginning of their 30th season, the Jacks had enough players at their main camp to fill four teams – red, blue, green and white. The teams spent Saturday and Sunday facing off at the St. Clements arena, showing their skills before final decisions are made.
Head coach Brad Gerber says there are still enough players on the list to make up two full teams.
“We had about 60 kids at the camp and we have trimmed our numbers just a bit,” he said, adding that there is still a couple of opportunities for prospective players to make the team. “Now, we are going to get some exhibition games under our belt before we make our next decisions. We have a game (tonight) and a game on Saturday and we would like to get the roster pretty close to finished by the end of next week. As a staff, there is still so much to go over and a lot to do, especially with so many guys. So far, so good, though.”
With so many skaters still in the running for a spot on the roster, Gerber says he will be focusing on the newbies during the upcoming exhibition games.
“We like to get the young fellows in and obviously, we have to play some returning players, but we like to get the guys still in camp that are there for the first time. That is the best place to see what they can do and how they handle certain situations,” he said. “There are some veterans in the lineup, but we already know what they can do.”
Based on what he has seen so far, Gerber says he is hopeful for the upcoming regular season, but realizes what lies ahead.
“With the returning players that we have coming back, the way they are looking already this year and their commitment, it is an exciting time of year,” he said. “It is a tough league, and you really have to do your homework and come together as a team, but we are definitely excited, but also realistic. We have a lot of work to do and it is still early. We just have to work together as a team and keep moving forward.”
Thursday night’s first exhibition game is against the Mitchell Hawks, and on Saturday the Jacks will be up against the Mount Forest Patriots – two teams they don’t play in the regular season. Gerber says it can be beneficial to play teams that the guys don’t know.
“It is sometimes nice to play a team that you don’t really see. I think we know the league pretty well and we see those other teams often enough that we don’t need to see them in exhibition play,” he said, adding that staff does their research when it comes to their rivals. “We know what players are coming back for what teams and all that. You don’t just do the homework for your team. You do the homework for all the teams.”
Both upcoming exhibition games are being held at the St. Clements arena. Tonight’s game against Mitchell starts at 7:30 p.m., as does Saturday’s game against Mount Forest.