Panthers looking to sign young players to local hockey club

Spring camp at Panorama Rec. this weekend; round robin games wrap up Sunday.

Peninsula Panthers’ coach Brad Tippett

More than 60 skaters will be on the ice this weekend for the Peninsula Panthers hockey club’s spring camp.

The squad, which ended this Junior B hockey season with an early exit from the Vancouver Island Junior hockey League playoffs last month, is looking to add young players to their roster — which was already one of the youngest this past season.

Head Coach Brad Tippett says they put out a lot of invitations to the camp, reaching out to a variety of players coming up through the minor hockey ranks.

“We have a bunch of kids coming from Peninsula Minor Hockey,” Tippett said.

“A lot of them practised with the team throughout the season.”

Another group of players, Tippett continued, will be coming out of the Victoria Royals major midget ranks and another trio of players will arrive this weekend from Winnipeg — some of which are top 10 players in that province’s high school hockey ranks.

Goaltending for the Panthers this season, as a result of players possibly moving up, is a question mark for the club.

Tippett said there will be 12 or 13 goalies on the ice this weekend at Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich.

“We think six of seven of those at the camp have a legitimate chance to make the lineup,” he said, adding they will need two for their own roster — and many of those who do not make the team could land with other VIJHL squads.

Tippett said the Panthers are going to be a young team again next September. The veterans will be on the ice as well at the camp, but in more of a coaching or assisting role.

The big camp turnout means there will be four full teams on the ice in practice sessions and round robin games that wrap up throughout Sunday morning. From there, the next group of Peninsula Panthers will be chosen.

Following the spring camp, ice activity at Panorama Recreation Centre winds down, as the facility plans to replace the ice surface and boards in the main arena.

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