Neepawa Natives conclude training camp


Shift attention to the exhibition schedule

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Photo by Eoin Devereux

Training camp wrapped up for the Neepawa Natives on Saturday, Sept. 1.

By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

Heading into the 2018 edition of the Neepawa Natives training camp, there were many questions that needed to be answered regarding the team’s roster for the upcoming season. At the end of the four-day camp, some of those questions have been answered. The rest will be answered over the next two week, over the course of six pre-season games.

The junior “A” club wrapped up its annual fall camp on Saturday, Sept. 1, narrowing down the list of potential roster players from around 120 to 28, (5 goaltenders, 8 defence and 15 forwards). Natives head coach/general manager Dustin Howden said there are also four other potential roster options out there, who are still away at Western Hockey League camps. Howden said cutting the numbers down was a difficult process this year.

“We had a very solid training camp. The amount of effort that was out there on display was very high and there were a lot of tough decisions that had to be made in order to get the roster down to 28. It’s going to be even harder to narrow it down from there,” noted Howden. “The players took their off-season training seriously and came into camp very well prepared. That’s great, but at the same time, that makes things difficult for [the coaching and scouting staff], when it comes to making decisions on who stays and who goes.”

A few decisions must still be made in regard to the final roster. Howden said that the six games that are a part of the exhibition schedule will go a long way towards deciding who sticks around for the regular season.

“There are a few roster battles that’ll be going on, especially up front in the forward positions. We’re going into the exhibition schedule with the belief that these games will go a long way towards deciding who remains here around for the regular season. Now is not the time for these players to get complacent. I want to see guys compete.”

Neepawa’s first exhibition game was played in Winkler on Tuesday, Sept. 4. The Natives next play a pair of road games in Waywayseecappo and Portage on Friday, Sept 7 and Saturday, Sept. 8 respectively. The final three games of the Neepawa’s exhibition schedule will all be played at the Yellowhead Centre between Sept 11-15.