Six players have been signed to the Peninsula Panthers Junior B hockey team out of their recent spring camp and more are expected soon.
Head Coach Brad Tippett says the squad, which finished with nine wins and 36 losses this past season in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, was looking for new players with skill, speed and something called ‘scare-acter’.
“We are still going to be a young team,” Tippett said following the three-day camp at Panorama Recreation Centre, which ended on March 26.
“But we’re going to be faster, more skilled and tougher.”
The initial six players they added to the 2017-18 roster fit that bill, he said.
“We were very happy with everything at the camp … the numbers and the quality of the kids too, how deep it was.”
There were around 60 skaters and 12 goaltenders at the camp, March 24 to 26. Tippett said the level of skill on display made it tougher for the coaches and club executives to make decisions on who to keep. He added there are four or five goalies they still have their eyes on. The club is waiting for a few more weeks before announcing who the goaltending tandem will be next season.
As well, Tippett said the team will be adding more players to the roster as they become available.
Starting the build for the next hockey season are two 18-year-old players out of Winnipeg: defenceman Skyler Diamond-Burchuk and forward Matt Lawrence. Tippett called Lawrence a “big, skilled winger who’s tough on the puck.” As for the new D-man, the coach said he expects Diamond-Burchuk to be a fan favourite next season — a strong skater who competes at a national level in Red Bull Crashed Ice events.
The Panthers added four more forwards: Brendan Martin (Victoria Royals Major Midget) and Peninsula Minor Hockey products Riley Braun, Josh Lingard and Tanner Wort.
That PMHA trio, who are 17 and 16 years old, were part of the Panthers’ practice roster last season and played the odd game for the Junior B team late in the season.
“They practiced with us most of the year. These three guys were basically a part of our team. They were really solid, dominant players (in camp).”
Martin, meanwhile, helps give the Panthers someone with size and “bite.”
The camp, Tippett continued, also gave the club a look at potential affiliate players next season, as well as others who will look to make the roster the following year or so.
Over the next 10 days or so, the coach said there could be more signings by the club as they rebuild.