Rebels veterans and hopefuls wrap up their 2010/2011 training camp today with a series of scrimmages and an All-Star Game (3:00, Complex) as we inch closer toward the start of the season.
I took in yesterday's scrimmages along with a decent-sized group of parents and fans alike and was impressed by both the speed and toughness of some of the younger players in the lineup. One name that was being murmured throughout the afternoon was that of Diego Bartlett, who is trying to crack the lineup as a 16 year-old. Bartlett and major midget teammate Arthur Andrews played well together on a Team Yellow squad that also featured last year's captain Gilbert Bilodeau, who played out his eligibility last season, and former Williams Lake Timberwolf Anthony DeLong (pictured at centre). Word is DeLong could be back if a Junior A camp in the SJHL doesn't go as expected.
One familiar face who will be back as an overager is forward Erik Wentzel. He spent last season with the SJHL's Estevan Bruins (1-3-4, 106 PIM in 46 GP), but spent the two previous seasons in Castlegar. He spent much of the day yesterday hitting absolutely everything in sight. Wentzel, fellow Kelowna product Ryan Aynsley, and local Darren Tarasoff were the only 20 year-olds I counted, as I'm told Andrew Shaw decided over the summer not to return for his 20 year-old season.
Local fans can get their first taste of Rebels hockey this Saturday at the Complex when they host Grand Forks in exhibition play. I'm told that game (and the away tilt Friday night in the Boundary) will be another chance for some of the young guys to strut their stuff.
Bits & Bites: Rebels goaltender Andrew Walton played half the game Friday night in Trail's 4-0 BCHL exhibition loss against the Vernon Vipers. Two trades between KIJHL and other Junior B teams to report: North Okanagan sent Bryon Maxwell (9-9-18 in 22 GP in 2009/10) to the PIJHL's Mission Icebreakers for futures, while the VIJHL's Saanich Braves snagged former Sicamous defenseman Hayden Long in a futures deal. Grand Forks held their camp over the weekend, Beaver Valley's kicks off today while Nelson Leaf hopefuls have to wait until Wednesday to show their talents.