Tuesday, June 26, 2007

North Stars' open camp starts Friday

It’s that time of year again – that time when the game of musical roster spots is in full swing, with the best players from across the continent are scrambling to find a place to play hockey the following autumn.

The Traverse City North Stars’ own dance card is as full as it’s ever been, with over 80 players set to compete in the club’s final open tryout camp of the off-season this weekend at Centre ICE arena. The team even had to turn away numerous interested players.

“We’re going to see a lot of good hockey, a lot of good hockey players,” said Stars head coach/GM Anthony Palumbo. “It’s a big group, but it’s just that time of the summer after the USHL (United States Hockey League) camps are over and cuts are made. Guys are looking for a spot in the NAHL now, and we’re certainly getting a good look at some very talented players.”

The camp will consist of North Stars tenders, draft picks, 2006-07 holdovers and those chasing a Junior A roster spot. The top-performing players from this weekend’s camp and the club’s May open tryout will be invited back to Traverse City for the Aug. 3-5 training camp, from which the 2007-08 roster will be selected.

“Spots are up for grabs – about 23 of ’em,” Palumbo asserted.

Among those expected to compete this weekend are tenders Marc Thompson, Eric O’Hearn, Sean Burke, Eric McLintock and Alex Redmond – all Traverse City products – plus signatories Phil Wendecker, a Livonia Churchill defenseman and Cleveland Barons midget blueliner Trevor Shively, brother of former TC goalkeeper Stefan Shively. The Stars’ top draft pick, Blind River rearguard Tyler Stephens, is also slated to participate, as are returning players including Ben Plocar, Matt Hughes, Jameson Raymond, Sabastion Kimmel, Zach Hitch, Alex Breeden, Nate Urbaniak, Chris Heineman, Harrison Niemann and Kyle and Brett Jendra.

With so many North Stars hopefuls vying to sport the interlocking ‘TC’ sweater, Palumbo has had to add a few talent evaluators to monitor the action.

“We’ll have anywhere from five to eight guys on every player on every team, every game,” Palumbo explained. “We’ll be looking for skill, of course, but also that certain work ethic. It’s not too difficult to gauge how hard a kid works just by watching him.”

The camp kicks off on Friday with goalies reporting for duty at noon, while the residual of the participants check in four hours later. The players will split into four teams, and take on each of the other three squads throughout the weekend. The top players from the weekend will be selected for Sunday morning’s culminating all-star game.

“There’s always a sense of heightened urgency in these late off-season camps,” Palumbo added. “I’d expect to see some pretty intense play.”

North Stars open tryout camp schedule

Friday, June 29
11 a.m. – Goalie check-in
Noon-1:20 p.m. – Goalies on-ice session
4 p.m. – Skater check-in
5:15 p.m. – Player/Parent meeting
6 p.m.-7:50 p.m. – Red Team vs. Blue Team
8 p.m.-9:50 p.m. – White Team vs. Gold Team

Saturday, June 30
9 a.m.-10:50 a.m. – Red Team vs. White Team
11 a.m.-12:50 p.m. – Blue Team vs. Gold Team
1:00 p.m.-2:20 p.m. – Goalies on-ice session
6 p.m.-7:50 p.m. – Blue Team vs. White Team
8 p.m.-9:50 p.m. – Red Team vs. Gold Team

Sunday, July 1
10 a.m.-Noon –All-Star Game

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