Thursday, August 16, 2007

IceDiggers looking forward to training camp

The Alpena IceDiggers will open training camp on Tuesday, September 4 with an on-ice session beginning at 2:00 p.m. All IceDiggers practices will be open to the public.

The 27 players will report on Saturday, September 1 at Northern Lights Arena looking to lock up one of the 24 spots for the season.

The IceDiggers returns four forwards from last years squad - Alpena native Erik Peterson, Jimmy McCusker (Novi), Kerry Bence (St. Clair) and Mike DeGrazia (Novi). On the back end, veterans Ben Kitzmiller (Lambertville), Evan West (Marysville) and Carl Nielsen return for another season in Alpena.

"We will be a young team, so it is important for our returning guys to remain confident during the rough times," third-year head coach Kenny Miller said. "I feel we have added several good players to this years team and if we play the way we are capable of, we will be OK."

Other veteran players that have spent time in the NAHL that will be attending camp are forwards Russ Anderson (St. Louis Bandits), Chris Perko (Fairbanks Ice Dogs) and netminder Nate Pellegrino (Alaska Avalanche). Tristan Harper (Scotland) spent time with the Bandits last season before being sent down to the CSHL to play for the Junior B national champion St. Louis Jr. Blues.

Forwards Jerrod Hartman, Jon Puskar (Compuware), Tyler Pilmore, Adam Kuhn (Michigan Ice Dogs), Andy Yarber (Compuware), Fred Burnham (Little Caesars), Ryan Timar (Michigan Ice Dogs), Pat Leonard (Compuware) and Brandon McConnell (Alpena midgets) along with the returning forwards will battle it out during training camp for the 14 forward spots available on this year's roster. Cheboygan native Isaac Viau will also be in camp after spending the past two seasons in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Northern Michigan Black Bears and Soo Indians.

"Each and every guy coming to camp needs to be at his best during the preseason to secure a spot on the team," added Miller. "We are going to have to make some tough decisions prior to the Showcase in late September."

Defensemen that will be reporting for training camp include JC Gulch, Cameron Small (Michigan Ice Dogs), Anton Thornquist (Victory Honda), Steve Tulgestka (Alpena High) and Tom Murphy.

Dan Pason (Little Caesars) will handle the goaltending duties with Pellegrino this year for the 'Diggers.

"I really like the two guys we have in goal," said Miller. "They both have the ability to give us a chance to win every night if they play to their capabilities."

The IceDiggers open the regular season in Blaine, Minn., at the NAHL Showcase from September 19-22. Alpena plays Wichita Falls, Southern Minnesota, Fargo-Moorhead and North Iowa.

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