While summer sports start to wind down as we reach the latter half of August, Yorkton athletes are aiming for spots on the ice.
Several local hockey players are heading out for Western Hockey League (WHL) camps this week. They’re looking to catch coaches’ eyes and earn positions on one of the 22 teams in the division.
Yorkton players will travel to Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia to try out for the teams. For certain players, it will be a homecoming of sorts.
Carson Miller is returning to the Prince Albert Raiders for the third year. He’s excited to meet his teammates and build a successful season.
“Every year is a little bit different,” he said. “Coming back as a veteran, you want to show...leadership and...help [your teammates] out.”
Keenan Taphorn, who’s heading to the Kootenay Ice camp in Cranbrook, B.C., is pumped to see his friends from around the country.
“I’m looking forward to...seeing how [the guys] progressed over the summer and what skills they picked up,” he said. “It’s a good time in the year, hanging out with all your teammates, and ultimately trying to win the championship.”
The camps won’t be walks in the park. They can be grueling physical tests. Competing with other players only makes the camps that much more difficult. Brett Kemp, who’s playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings, knows how tough the camps can be.
“Our camp goes Friday to Wednesday, so by Tuesday you’re kind of feeling it,” he said. “No one really has a spot right now, so we gotta go in with a mindset of trying to make the team.”
“It’s definitely a grind,” said Ryder Korczak, who’s attending the Calgary Hitmen camp.
Kael DePape, 15, who’s played with the Yorkton Maulers, will be attending his first WHL camp when he plays for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He’s eager to earn a spot on the team.
“I’m pretty young and going to a WHL camp is a big step for me,” he said. “There are lots of guys, so it’s pretty intimidating.”
The players will leave Yorkton throughout the week as they journey to their respective camps. Miller thinks the WHL teams provide an excellent opportunity for personal and athletic growth.
“We’re at a certain time in life where we can enjoy a sport and get together and make some memories and make some friendships that last a lifetime,” he said.