Unless they travel to Toronto, Soo Greyhounds fans will not get a chance to see their team’s top prospects in action prior to the club’s main training camp in late August.
The Hounds 2019 Orientation and Development Camp will be held at the Mastercard Centre, practice facility of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, May 31 – June 1.
“We’d obviously prefer to run the camp in the Sault, in front of our fans,” Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis told The Sault Star. “But with no ice available in any of the local arenas at this time of year, that’s not possible.”
Raftis also spoke of how the Hounds certainly wanted “to show off our facilities to our new players.”
Instead, a group of roughly 24 forwards, 12 defencemen and six netminders will attend the two-day camp in Toronto.
The club’s draft choices from 2019 and 2018, who’ve yet to play in the Ontario Hockey League, and a group of free agents will be featured.
They’ll also be joined by four members of the Hounds from the 2018 Priority Selections. Defenceman Ryan O’Rourke and forward Rory Kerins spent the entire season with the 2018-2019 Greyhounds while forwards Dominic Mufarreh and Kalvyn Watson also got a taste of OHL action.
O’Rourke was the club’s first-round selection (20th overall), while Kerins was a fourth-round pick.
Watson was taken in the fifth round and Mufarreh was a seventh-round choice.
The 2018 Greyhounds had no selections in either the second, third or sixth rounds.
At present, only one Sault native is expected to attend the camp.
Netminder Noah Zeppa, the Great North Midget League’s MVP last season as a member of the Soo Thunderbirds Minor Midgets, is expected to be on hand.
Zeppa was taken by the Hounds with the 37th choice overall in this year’s Under-18 draft.
Meantime, while the team wants to see its young players on the ice, Raftis spoke of how the camp’s main purpose is to get the kids acclimated.
“It’s more about giving our guys an idea of what we do,” he added. “We want to let the kids get used to how we practice and our style of play. We also want to let them be able to put faces to names in the organization.”
Along with meeting head coach John Dean, associate Jordan Smith and assistant coach Jamie Tardif, the prospects will provide the organization a chance to gauge their physical development.
“They’ll give us a little bit of a baseline as to where they are in their off-ice training and on-ice development,” Raftis said.