Prospects impress at Oilers identification camp

Hockey: Okotoks looks to plug holes at spring session

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 06:00 am

Matt Phillips gets in on the fore-check for Team White at the Okotoks Oilers Spring Identification Camp, Sunday at the Scott Seaman Sports Rink.
Matt Phillips gets in on the fore-check for Team White at the Okotoks Oilers Spring Identification Camp, Sunday at the Scott Seaman Sports Rink.
Remy Greer/OWW

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The Okotoks Oilers took the first steps towards refurbishing their roster for the upcoming season on the weekend.

Okotoks hosted its annual Spring Identification Camp, April 4-6, where approximately 160 prospects looked to stand out amongst the crowd and impress the Oilers brass.

“It’s one of the better camps I’ve seen in my four years of doing spring camps here in Okotoks,” said Oilers head coach/GM James Poole. “There is a real good complement of size and some smaller players that are extremely skilled and some bigger players have the full package of skill and physicality.

“Some of the elements we’re looking to add to our team are definitely here in this camp and it’s definitely exciting that we’ve found some players that will make really good Oilers.”

Much needed replenishment for the Oilers who lost a strong core of players to graduation including captain Robbie Fisher, forwards Connor Hartley, Ty Clay, Derek Thorogood and invaluable blueliners Tariq Hammond, Jordan Swenson and Max Mowat.

“There is a fair bit of turnover this year so we’re looking for a fair bit of everything,” Poole said. “Up front we’re looking for some guys who can play on our second or third line and start contributing right away or have the potential that with some development are going to be guys by the end of the year we can really count on.”

Camp standouts included diminutive sniper Matt Phillips, a Victoria Royals draft pick and 35-point scorer with the Calgary Midget AAA Buffaloes, and Calgary Royal Shane Allan, an affiliate player with the Oilers during the 2013-14 season.

Big bodied Buffaloes winger Carsen Twarysnki and 1996-born centre Jackson McKinstry also impressed the Okotoks brass at the three-day camp.

“Those four guys, offensively have looked like real solid players,” Poole said. “They’re going to be good Junior A players.”

There are ample spots to be filled on the back end with returnees Josh Smith, Drew Weich, Jake Dube and Kyle Krabben, whose proven himself effective both up-front and on the back-end, expecting to hold the fort for the green-and-gold.

“I think most of the pieces we’re looking for are at this camp,” Poole added.

In goal, uncertainty over the return of last year’s goaltending duo have put an added emphasis on shoring up the last line of defence.

Stalwart netminder Jared D’Amico is expected to return, but could see scholarship opportunities come up over the summer. Meanwhile, promising rookie Keelan Williams could take the Western Hockey League route with the Kootenay Ice, who own his major junior rights.

“What we’re looking for really is a guy who can potentially back-up for us next year,” Poole said. “There are some really good 98s, guys that are probably two years away and a couple that are maybe contending for that back-up spot.”

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