The last time the Pembroke Lumber Kings were on the ice was when they suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Brockville Braves, ending their 2021-22 season. That was on April 22, a night the Kings and Braves played into a fourth overtime period in game seven of their Central Canada Hockey League quarter-final series.
Some of the players who participated in that grueling affair were back in uniform this past weekend as the Kings held their spring evaluation camp in Arnprior. The veterans were mixed with newcomers, who were trying to leave a positive first impression with the coaching staff who now have the difficult job of trimming down the roster.
Forty-five players attended the camp. Half of them won’t be invited to the team’s training camp in August, but head coach and general manager, Alex Armstrong was impressed with the competition level during the scrimmages.
“The camp was very competitive. I was surprised by how much work the kids had put in as it was obvious how much they had improved since their seasons ended,” says Armstrong.
The Lumber Kings are expecting nine players from last season to return for the 2022-23 campaign, but there are obvious holes to fill including the loss of defenceman Bruce Coltart who logged a lot of ice time after he was acquired mid-way through last season from Smiths Falls. The Kings are also looking for more scoring. They felt the sting of losing Brady Egan last year when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Egan to play in the United States. At the time, Egan was leading the league in scoring.
Between now and August, the Lumber Kings coaching staff will determine what players will make the cut to attend training camp. “We were pleased with the evaluation camp. It will be interesting to see who wins a job come August,” says Armstrong.
The CCHL does not expect to release its regular season schedule until mid-July. The season will begin in September.