Training camp closed out with the sixth day of on-ice sessions Saturday at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex. The week-long affair to set the bar high for the upcoming season. It is clear that the camaraderie of the team is beginning to blossom as the warm up was very loose in nature, with lots of laughs and smiles on the ice. A foundational piece of a successful hockey team is cohesion both on the ice and within the dressing room, and throughout this past week the new players and returning players have all grown together. “With new guys coming onto the team, it’s important for everyone to get to know each other, and get the feel for the team” said Head Coach Mark Coletta after practice. “Everyone comes from a high level of hockey be it junior or other college leagues, so it’s about coming together on the ice which we are continuing to work on.”
The pace of camp steadily increased over the course of the week, ending off on game-level intensity for the entirety of today’s practice. A high standard was expected by the coaching staff, and players were encouraged to not lay off while competing for pucks. “We wanted to keep the intensity high, treat every situation like a game” said Coletta. “All of the guys have been working hard this week, and we wanted to emphasize fitness first before getting into setting up our systems.” Fitness and physicality was tested today with 2-on-2 puck battles and possession work in the corner between two forwards and two defensemen. Earlier in the week, there was not as much body contact during these drills, but today hits were being laid, albeit light ones. The high competition level could be felt for the entire hour, as the team gears up to contend for the BCIHL championship.
A full 5-on-5 scrimmage encompassed the final twenty minutes of training camp, and as with the other drills during the day the pace of play was very fast, and some body contact was seen. Mike Sandor, entering his fourth year with the team, looked strong on the ice today including a beautiful deflection for a goal in the scrimmage. Sandor is looking to build on his 9 goals and 4 assists which he tallied last season playing in all 24 games. Mitch Crisanti, entering his second year on the team was forming good chemistry with NCAA-transfer Scott Patterson. Crisanti suited up for 11 games with the Clan last year, contributing 2 goals and 3 assists. Patterson played the last two seasons at Division 1 Lake Superior State University, collecting 4 points in 31 games. Almost a point a game player in the 2013-14 BCHL season, the North Vancouver native looks to bring a scoring touch to SFU this year.
With training camp winding up, there is no slowing down for the team. With the first exhibition game against the University of British Columbia only one week away, this upcoming week is going to be about establishing offensive and defensive systems. “It’s a short season, and with only a few exhibition games we need to build on our forecheck, and structuring our play. Once the regular season starts in October, we will be ready as a team” says Coletta. “With a short season and a small league, the championship is always the goal, and that is where we want to be at the end of year.” SFU hits the ice again on Tuesday, with four more practices to gear up for UBC on September 10th, and then the only home exhibition game on September 24th against Trinity Western University at Bill Copeland Arena. If the tone set in training camp continues into the season, then SFU will be an a favourite in the BCIHL this season.