With training camp right around the corner, Derek Stuart, head coach and general manager of the Kimberley Dynamiters continues to bring in bodies in an effort to bolster his lineup for the 2016-17 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season.
Tuesday afternoon, Stuart confirmed the signings of Troy Feldbusch — an 18-year-old native of Coaldale, Alta. — and Logan Middleton — an 18-year-old product of Picture Butte, Alta.
The two forwards bring a variety of attributes to the table. Middleton provides a 6-foot-1, 175-pound body and much needed size, while Feldbusch is slighter at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds.
While no role is determined prior to training camp, Stuart sees plenty of potential in both skaters after assessing them at a recent joint identification camp hosted by the Dynamiters and Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
“I invited them both to the camp to see them, first of all, and then to let them know where they would stand with us before coming to our main camp,” Stuart said Tuesday afternoon.
“They can both skate… They both have skills… They both bring a little bit of different things. Troy is a smaller guy, but he’s real, real fast and he’s got a lot of offensive upside. Logan is a bit bigger, but he can skate for a big guy. He’s not afraid to throw his weight around, as well.”
Feldbusch— who Stuart characterized as speedy — spent the past three seasons playing out of the Notre Dame Hockey program in Wilcox, Sask. During the 2015-16 campaign, he registered four goals and 13 assists in 42 games with the Midget AAA Argos.
The 2015-16 season saw Middleton — described as physical by Stuart — skate with the Taber Golden Suns of the South Central Alberta Midget AA Hockey League. In 38 games, Middleton posted 15 goals and 31points.
“If they both pan out like they should, they should be able to contribute offensively as well,” Stuart said.
Both Feldbusch and Middleton will get their first real opportunity to show off their chops this coming weekend at the Kimberley Civic Centre as Stuart and the Dynamiters open the club’s 2016 training camp.
“I’m excited,” Stuart said. “We could have 12 veterans back… The veteran presence is a bit of a surprise from a month or so ago, where it looked like we were going to have maybe just three or four at camp or returning. There’s a good chance we could have eight or nine guys back from last year’s team. I guess what I’m trying to say, from my point of view, it’s a little bit of a relief that we have more veterans than I thought we did.
“We have a lot of good rookies who are definitely going to challenge them for roles. The leadership group is a lot stronger with some of these veterans just being at camp.”
Players are set to report for registration at 2 p.m. on Friday, with on-ice sessions beginning at 4:30 p.m. Camp will wrap up Sunday with final on-ice sessions running from 9 a.m. through 1:15 p.m. Exactly how Sunday’s schedule breaks down will be determined as the weekend plays out.
Stuart expects to have 45 to 50 players in camp, including as many as 10 returning players.
“I need to see guys that will compete in practice, in games that we have scheduled, definitely guys that are willing to battle, work hard and make themselves tough to play against,” Stuart said. “I want to ice a team this year that, at the very least, other teams say, ‘I don’t want to play the Kimberley Dynamiters. It’s hard to play them.’
“I’m looking for players that don’t take the easy way out and make it hard for their opponents when they face-off against them.”
Expected to return for camp this weekend are goaltender Mitch Traichevich; defencemen Lucas Purdy, Tyler Van Steinburg and Trey Doell; as well as forwards Trevor Van Steinburg, James Rota, James Farmer and Franco Colapaolo. Also included in that list of returners are new Nitros, but KIJHL veterans Ryan Hozjan (acquired from Revelstoke) and Nicholas Ketola (acquired from Nelson).
As of now, the newest Nitros bench boss anticipates a total of 27 forwards, 15 defencemen and eight goaltenders will report for camp Friday afternoon.
Not expected in camp are defencemen Brett Roberts (acquired from Beaver Valley) and Devon Langelaar.
Both are off to Junior A camps in Alberta, but committed to joining the Dynamiters should things not turn out at the next level. Roberts is set to tryout with the Sherwood Park Crusaders, while Langelaar will give it a shot with the Olds Grizzlys.
Stuart plans on naming a pre-season roster at the conclusion on Sunday’s proceedings. Out of the 50 players coming to camp, he expects to name 25 or 26 to his team’s pre-season roster.
From there, the Dynamiters open the exhibition season Wednesday, Aug. 31, when they visit the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. The Nitros first home pre-season contest is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Sept. 2 (7 p.m.) when they host the Golden Rockets at the Kimberley Civic Centre, though location and time could change, pending circumstance involving the City of Kimberley and United Steelworkers Local 1-405.