Tue, August 30th, 2011


Navy Vets camp opens

By Cory Smith, Sentinel-Review


Training camp was barely one day old Monday and Jeff Morrison couldn't help but feel much better than he did a year ago.

It wasn't until Aug. 23, 2010 when Morrison received word from the Ontario Hockey Association that he would be taking over as Woodstock Navy Vets general manager. With training camp only days away, Morrison had no choice but to add head coach to his duties. Two-thirds of the players were already signed, joined by other camp invitees chosen by the previous regime.

"This year we're set more," Morrison said last night after Day 1 of training camp at Southwood Arena. "We were able to recruit properly in April and May. We took on the team in training camp last year and we had about 15 people signed that we hadn't chosen."

The team sent out 90 invites this year and had close to 60 players show up. Many are from Woodstock and Oxford County, and Morrison predicted only "one or two" imports would make the squad.

"We had lots (of players) at every position, and kids like (Darren) Pye, (Ben) Thornton and Simon George coming up through the local ranks or triple-A," Morrison said.

With only four players signed, the camp is wide open. It also means returning players will have to earn their spots for 2011-12.

"We're impressed by a couple of the rookies," Morrison said. "Most of the vets we already know what they bring to the table. There's a few who need to get into shape."

There will be more intrasquad games among the four teams tonight and Wednesday before the roster is trimmed to about 25 heading into the weekend's first exhibition games.

"There's some kids who have impressed us who may get a longer look than we anticipated," Morrison said. "It's very encouraging. There's a few veterans who, partway through the night, were on the outside looking in knowing they might not have a spot. It's good for us because we'll have a better team than last year."