Major midget hockey prospects from across northern B.C. will hope to make a good impression this weekend at the Coliseum.
That's because Cariboo Cougars team officials are evaluating players born in 1998, 1999, and 2000 at the annual three-day B.C. Major Midget Hockey League summer identification camp.
"It's quite the list, there will be just under 120 guys showing up and by all accounts that's the most in the league," said general manager and head coach Trevor Sprague. "It'll be an interesting camp with the (2017) Telus Cup coming up. We'll pick a younger team, but we'll also need our veterans to be good leaders."
With the goal of maintaining its position atop the BCMML, Sprague will closely watch the scrimmages from the stands and will be joined by longtime assistant coach Bryan MacLean and new assistant coach Tyler Brough. Brough is a Prince George Cougars alumni.
Also watching from above will be the WHL Cougars coaching staff. The Cougars will have several prospects on the ice, including a pair of defencemen - Zach Minaker from Kitimat and Jonas Harkins from North Vancouver - who were drafted by the team in the 2015 WHL bantam draft. They'll suit up for the Cariboo Cougars this year.
At five-foot-11 and 186-pounds, Minaker played for the Okanagan Hockey Academy's bantam prep team, while Harkins is a six-foot-two and 190-pound product of the North Shore Winter Club.
Other newcomers include two more defencemen, Chris Jandric (the younger brother of Cariboo Cougars forward Steven) and Jeremy Gervais who patrolled the blue line last season for the Coast Inn of the North Tier 1 midget Cougars.
At the team's spring evaluation camp, Sprague was also impressed with 17-year-old forward James Gordon who lined up for the Coast Inn of the North Tier 1 midget Cougars last season and Adam Bowie, a 16-year-old forward from Fort St. John.
Ty Kolle, a 15-year-old forward from Quesnel who was the Portland Winterhawks first selection in the fourth round of the 2015 WHL bantam draft, will also suit up for the midget Cougars next season.
Kolle spent last season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
Sprague also likes Hunter Floris, a 15-year-old forward from Vanderhoof who Sprague described as "a smart player who has shown good poise around the net."
Returning players expected to be on the ice include forwards Colton Thomas, Riley Coish, Brendan Moore; Chase DuBois, and Keith Redden, defencemen Jesse Pomeroy and Joel Patsey (a 2014 WHL bantam draft pick) and goaltender Dorrin Luding.
The Cariboo Cougars are hosting the Telus Cup midget national championship in April, 2017. The squad will have an automatic berth as host team.
"That's just something we're focused on building for this year," said Sprague. "But that doesn't mean we don't want to make the Telus Cup this year."
This weekend's evaluation camp is open to the public.
Scrimmages get underway Friday at 4:30 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Saturday's games are at 10:15 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.
Sunday concludes with games at 8 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Final selections of the 20 players, including two goaltenders will be made by Sept. 15.
Last season, the Prince George-based team won the prestigious Mac's Midget trophy in January. And after finishing atop the BCMML regular season standings, the Cougars were swept by the Vancouver North East Chiefs in the best-of-three championship series.