Prospects work to make good impression
Kodiaks prospect Ethan Heidepriem makes a movie on goalie Luke Lush during the Camrose Kodiaks summer camp at the Border Paving Arena on Saturday. Leah Simonot/Camrose Canadian
Prospective Camrose Kodiaks defenceman Lane Brockhoff headed for the changerooms Saturday night satisfied his hometown team lived up to his expectations.
Brockhoff, cousin to former Kodiaks forward Chad Berglund, was one of 48 players who laced up for the Kodiaks summer training camp this weekend.
Labouring for a position on a Camrose team is a familiar task for the Edberg-native, who spent his peewee and bantam years battling Hockey Alberta to join the city’s high-level teams, as he lived 30 minutes out of town within the Bashaw zone. Playing in Camrose meant opportunity, and winning this battle lifted weight from his shoulders.
“I didn’t have to worry about staying down at a lower level,” said Brockhoff, who returned to play bantam with the Camrose Red Wings AAA in 2014-15. “That’s what hockey’s all about: giving you opportunity whether it’s on the ice or on the job, whatever in life.”
He spent the next two seasons in Camrose with the Red Wings minor midget AAA and the Camrose Vikings midget AA before going on to play with the Leduc Oil King’s midget AAA team this past season.
The six-foot-one, 190-pound 18-year-old come out with 24 regular season points (seven goals and 14 assists in 34 games played) plus seven playoff points (1-6-7) and his sights turned back on Camrose.
“I put all my cards in with this team,” he said.
Brockhoff has been training with former Kodiaks defenceman Matt Gervais since mid-May and said it was natural falling back in with the familiar faces of other local players at the camp. He felt good about his performance and was comfortable on the ice despite the intense game he met with the Border Paving Arena.
“It was pretty good, just nothing’s a guarantee. Obviously, you still have to work for your spot, so I just keep my game simple and do what I have to do and end up playing here,” said Brockhoff. “If I could get a scholarship that would be awesome. If not, just becoming a better person, that’s what this is about too. It’s not just hockey.”
His preparation for the team will carry on through the summer.
“Big thing I learned with [Kodiaks head coach Boris Rybalka], with my meetings and talking to him, it all comes down to work ethic. As long as I work hard, do my job this summer—working out, getting better, faster, stronger—hopefully I can be a Kodiak.”
Rybalka spoke positively of the attitude among this year’s prospective players.
“When we went out recruiting, that was a big thing, finding the kids who have those morals, ethics, the attitude of ‘I want to succeed,’” said Rybalka. “This group was very appreciative and that stood out for us. That, to us as a coaching staff, is big in today’s society, so we were impressed.”
He said players become Camrosians upon joining the team and, as such, he expects good character from them on or off the ice. This will be near the front of his mind as he builds the team for the upcoming season.
“We’ve let guys go with very good skill because we’ve seen that they don’t have the other side of it … at the end of the day, you’re born with a name, you die with a name and we have that logo, we have our name. Will we make mistakes over the year? Most definitely. Over the years? Most definitely. But at the end of the day, you have that standard you want to set,” said Rybalka. “That’s why we coach. We want to make these guys good citizens because if we do that, we know they’re going to be good hockey players.”
This philosophy has Ohio-native Ethan Heidepriem eager to make the 2018-19 roster.
“Ultimately it was the coaches. They care about their players, they care about hockey and they care about life and teaching you about that out there,” said Heidepriem.
The team fell onto the forward’s radar as he considered paths towards his goal of playing Div. 1 college hockey in the U.S.
The five-foot-10, 166-pound, 18-year-old wrapped up a 29-point (8-21-29) 34-game season with the Ohio Blue Jackets U18. His focus on the weekend was to play loose and get to know the team.
“I almost want to say it’s a family. It’s close. It’s tight. Everyone’s for the better of everyone else,” said Brockhoff. “Very skilled, very talented, they like to compete. It’s a good place for me because I see that in myself so there’s a lot of guys I can compete with out there.”
Motivated by his college aspirations and his love for the game, he is confident he would do well.
“They can expect me to always do my best, always be a team player and give it my all every day,” said Heidepriem. “I’m excited to get here in August and get to work — in a championship.”