The Kimberley Dynamiters held a summer identification training camp over the weekend, with over seventy skaters hitting the ice to gear themselves for upcoming hockey season.
It was an open camp, which featured a range of players from young bantams to Nitro veterans to a few skaters who will compete in different leagues.
The camp included 10 intrasquad games and one goaltender session spread out over a three-day period, with exit interviews from Dynamiter staff on Sunday.
Nitro head coach Roman Vopat said the club benefited from a larger than expected camp which allowed him and his assistant coach, Jordan Foreman, to invite roughly 30 players to the club's main camp at the end of August.
"We were hoping, before we put the registration on our website, for 50-55 kids and we ended up with 70, plus 11 goalies so it was an excellent turnout," said Vopat. "?I think it was a successful weekend."
The organization also signed four players-one sixteen-year-old, two 17-year-olds and one 18-year-old.
Vopat expects a challenging season when it kicks off in September as the team lost Colton Vannucci, Jordan Revie, Bryce Perpelitz and stopper Braeden Ostepchuk to different junior leagues in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.
"We're hoping, from our older players coming back, to replace the players who are leaving, but it's going to be an extremely hard task and they're going to have a lot of weight on their shoulders," said Vopat.
A few of the skaters who were out on the ice won't be involved with the Nitros in the near future. Ben Betker, a local defenseman, played in the BCHL last year with the West Side Warriors whose rights are owned by the WHL's Everett Silvertips.
Betker, 17, played in 59 games last year and tallied five goals and 12 assists, but is looking to graduate up into the WHL with the Silvertips for the upcoming season.
Betker had been a product of the Portland Winterhawks, but was traded, along with Mitch Skapski-brother of Kootenay Ice goaltender Mackenzie Skapski-and two other players to Everett in exchange for Seth Jones, a highly touted prospect out of the U.S. National Team Development Program.
"Getting traded for Portland was kind of shocking but I'll hopefully play quite a bit in Everett," Betker said.
"Hopefully, I can help them get out of the slump they've been. We're kind of in a rebuilding part of the organization, but it'll be a lot of fun and we'll be pretty young so hopefully I can contribute as much as I did in West Side."
Betker grew up in Cranbrook playing in the minor hockey system until he was 15, when he moved away to Nelson to play in the B.C. Major Midget League. He jumped up to the BCHL last year with the Warriors, which posted a 22-29-2-7 record.
Even though Betker is committed to a different team in a different league, he said it was nice to get out on the ice and get in some skating and shooting practice with the Nitros.
"It's actually really good that they put that on," said Betker, "because there's not a lot of ice available at this time of year so when they do that, it's great because you get guys like Sam Mellor and other guys like that, that kind of make it fun."
Another local, Tristan Pagura, attended the camp after coming off a selection tryout for Team BC that will determine the roster for the Western Canada Challenge Cup in the beginning of November.
"It was great, playing with all the best players in B.C., it's a good experience," said Pagura. "It's good to see what it's like."
Pagura, a Kimberley native, was selected by the Kelowna Rockets in this year's WHL Bantam Draft. He played in the South Central Alberta Hockey League with the Cranbrook Bantam Ice this past season and earned the top defenseman award.
"It's good to come back here and play with all my friends," said Pagura. "It's good to see them back out on the ice."
He will know in roughly a week if he made a shortlisted roster for the Team BC squad. Other than that, he hopes to have a good season in his first year as a midget-aged player to convince the Rockets that they made the right choice by selecting him.
The Nitros will have their main training camp in the last weekend of August, but will go through a couple exhibition games for more player evaluations before a finalized roster is set.