Lots to like from Neepawa Natives Prospects Camp



By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

Young hockey prospects from across the province recently hit the ice hoping to make a lasting impression at the Neepawa Natives annual spring evaluation camp. The event was held at the Yellowhead Arena on Mar. 23-25 and featured a mix of draft eligible players, as well as members of the MJHL club’s 50-man protected list.

Neepawa Natives general manager Myles Cathcart said just under 100 players participated in the camp and that the level of talent that was on display was impressive.

"The 2003 draft eligible group of players was very strong this past weekend. This was the first experience for all of these players at a junior camp and they impressed the scouting staff.  We have been watching these players all year and it was good to have them all in one spot to evaluate together. Many of our list players have developed as the season progressed and it was nice to see their progress.  We had a few other players that impressed us from other areas of North America, so we can now track them to continue the process,” stated Cathcart.

Cathcart, along with head coach Dustin Howden, director of player personnel/head scout Byron Billett and the rest of the scouting staff evaluated the players through a series of intense practice and drill sessions and several scrimmages.

Howden said it was very satisfying part to see the amount of improvement that has been made over the course of the winter by some of the returning players.

“It was very exciting to see that level of improvement from the returning players,” Howden said. “Myles and Byron and the entire scouting staff have done a very good job setting up this team to be in a good position for the future.”

As the camp drew to a close, an important component of the weekend took centre stage, in the form of the exit evaluations. These sessions involve the players sitting down with staff from the club and discussing elements of their game that they could work on and suggestions for the best way to improve or refine their skill set. Cathcart said the response to these examinations has always been very positive, as both the players and their parents appreciate the honest assessment. He added that it’s important to provide the type of feedback that the prospects can use to improve their game.

Cathcart also thanked the veteran players who participated in the camp. He noted they served as great ambassadors for the organization.

"I want to add our returning players were very professional this past weekend.  Communicating with the young kids and promoting the community of Neepawa and the organization.  The players are not obligated to come to this camp, but many came to support the team. It is nice to see them give back to the team."

The next big event for the franchise will be the 2018 MJHL Bantam Draft, which is set for June in Winnipeg.