By GORDON ANDERSON
Difficult decisions were made, the proper decisions made for the folks who wield power and influence with the local junior club.
The Grande Prairie Storm cut their main camp roster down to the 25 players, the number of guys Head Coach and GM Mike Vandekamp desired for the Alberta Junior Hockey league development portion of camp.
Development camp began Monday at Revolution Place, 11 players leaving main camp for various locales two days prior.
Among the adjustments of note for those with affection for local minor hockey, several players were affected?both positively and negatively?by the roster reduction.
Vandekamp sent Terris Lappenbush, Landon Hedges and Jaydon Gordey down to the Grande Peace Athletic Club U18 AAA Storm club, under the guidance of head coach Chris Schmidt and assistant coach Jordan McTaggart.
Continuing with the theme of the local U18 club, defenceman Devin Aubin and forward Dayne Tews remain in camp with the Storm.
Joining Aubin and Tews as local content include Edge Lambert, Paycen Bjorklund, Hudson Foley, Ty Toews, Devan Klassen and Austin Schellenberg.
?The decision (to cut players) is always difficult. This year, for me and (assistant coach Sam Waterfield), coming in here and not really knowing the players, other than some video and a little background, that made (decision making) challenging,? Vandekamp said. ?You want to take the time to make sure you watched everyone and you?re not missing something, or someone that could bring something to the table you weren?t aware of. Not having exhibition games (also) changed this process. You would never cut down to 25 players without playing exhibition games. That?s probably been the most challenging part of this process, to be honest.?
The new, yet familiar
With his previous head coaching experience with the club, Vandekamp did return to a familiar facility and a familiar team name, but he wasn?t all that familiar with the roster when camp kicked off in late August.
Every player at camp received the same message, a new coat of paint, as it were, from the GM.
?I came in with an open mind, laid it out with the players about what I would be looking for over the couple of weeks. I saw a lot of that, to be honest, guys that had passion for the game, guys that play hard and (not) afraid of hard work, just the attributes and characteristics that anyone would be looking for, really,? Vandekamp said. ?But we tried to put an emphasis on that. There (wasn?t) an easy day, they wanted to be here and work hard and that?s all you can ask.?
Final tune up
The club left main camp in the rear-view mirror after Team White earned a 6-4 victory over Team Blue at Revolution Place on Friday night.
Foley had his best game in main camp, in terms of offensive output, with two goals and two assists for Team White.
?I?m not big on individualizing players this early in the process but I thought (Foley) played good on Friday, for sure? Vandekamp said of the former U18 AAA Storm forward. ?The move to the wing was something we didn?t talk about, I just did it to see how he (would) react. He ended up scoring a couple of goals and it was his best game of the camp, production wise.?
Friday night spelled the end for Foley, in terms of his first experience at a Junior A training camp. The 17-year-old is all the wiser for the two-week journey.
Now, it?s on to development camp for the Teepee Creek resident.
?(Training camp was) lots of fun, but Vandekamp put us through a lot of work,? Foley said. ?It?s nice to have someone who pushes you and wants you to be better all the time. I really enjoyed it.?