Training camp is now underway for the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team, and with camp comes a final opportunity for U of A students to make the team this year.
As part of the Bears’ training camp, open tryouts were offered to any U of A students who at least played a midget AAA level of hockey.
The players who applied after tryouts were selected are now joining recruited first year players and returning students entering their second, third, fourth or fifth year of school. Golden Bears hockey head coach Ian Herbers sees the importance of offering this opportunity to any eligible U of A students.
“We’re the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey program, and these student-athletes who are trying out are going to the university. I think it’s important that camp is open to the university,” Herbers said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for these guys. They’ll get a legitimate look and an opportunity to prove that they can play.”
Training camp began on Sunday with fitness testing and an introductory meeting informing new players of the expectations placed upon every Golden Bears athlete. On Aug. 27, the players begin on-ice training with teaching and evaluating skills all week, ending with a Green vs. Gold game on Saturday that will test the players in a variety of common game situations.
“We’ll play five-on-five, five-on-four powerplay situations or four-on-four. We’ll even see a little bit of three-on-three, because during the regular season, if we get into overtime and we do hit a three-on-three situation, I need to see what guys are able to do,” Herbers said.
“I’ve watched a lot of video on guys who are returning skate and I just need to know all the players better, whether they’re tryout guys or the returning players this week.”
What the open tryouts will add to the Bears’ training camp is the competition it creates. The new Bear hopefuls pushing for a spot on the roster could strengthen the team, according to Herbers, with the potential of a new recruit even knocking an established Golden Bear out of a roster spot.
“I hope they’re coming in and challenging for a spot and pushing them. The better the challenge, the stronger our team is going to be,” Herbers said. “I want these guys in here competing, battling and pushing the returning players, which will make them better as well, and give us the best opportunity this season.”
However, if any of the students trying out for the team make the cut, they’ll have to get used to the regular difficulties that every student-athlete faces.
Their first challenge came on Aug. 26 with fitness training that showed whether players had stayed in top physical condition during the summer, but the other major challenge will be learning how to juggle their academics and athletic schedules throughout the year.
Training camp will also be a learning experience for the more seasoned players, skating for the first time under new head coach Ian Herbers.
They’ll learn about his expectations for the team and the differences between him and last year’s head coach, Stan Marple. With Herbers behind the bench now, players both new and old begin the season with a relatively clean slate.
“There will be some tweaks on how we do things system-wise and there will be adjustments with special teams,” Herbers said.
“The guys will be determining where they are in their position in the lineup depending on how hard they’ve worked in the offseason and how hard they work during training camp and the month process of exhibition games.”
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