By Ron Rop
Muskegon Lumberjacks’ assistant coach Dave Noel-Bernier can’t wait until Monday afternoon.
That’s because the Jacks’ weeklong training camp begins at L. C. Walker Arena.
The first of two phases of the camp will commence with the Invite Camp and will last two days. About 100 young players are expected to participate.
Following the invite camp, the top players will be asked to stick around for the four-day Main Camp that runs Wednesday through Saturday. The week’s activities culminate with all-star games at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday.
“The work of building a good team, the scouting and recruiting, is done,” Lumberjack owner Josh Mervis said. “Now we have to assess our team and select the members we believe give us the best chance to win a championship.”
The top players from the two-day Invite Camp will be asked to stick around for the four days of the Main Camp. Noel-Bernier said he expects 10-15 forwards and 5-8 defensemen to move from the Invite Camp into the Main Camp.
Noel-Bernier said he expects nearly all of the Jacks’ 23 draft picks in the league’s entry draft and futures draft to be here next week.
The group will be under the watchful eye of the Lumberjacks’ coaching staff along with scouts. Included in that group will be Coach Jim McKenzie, senior advisor Ron Mason along with assistant coaches Dave Noel-Bernier and Steve Palmer. Scouts Chris LaCombe, Charlie Link and William Langer will also be lending a hand during the evaluation process.
Much of the camp will be controlled games and all are open to the public.
Following the camp, the Jacks must pare down their roster to 25 players by July 1. That group will return in September and being preparations for the 2012-13 USHL season.
“This camp is very important, but it’s only the midpoint of the beginning of a team,” Mervis said. “A lot can happen over the summer.”
During the month of May, the Jacks drafted 23 players – six in the Futures draft and 17 in the entry draft.
“Simply put, they need to play hard and compete,” Mervis said. “At this level, players should know what they are good at. They need to do what they do well and minimize what they don’t.”
And everyone has been given the same message – there are no guarantees as far as roster spots.
“Those coming back have to right for their spots,” Noel-Bernier said. “This was a last-place team so there are not guarantees. We don’t want that to happen again.”
* Shortly after Friday night’s Baker College graduation ceremonies, the staff at Walker Arena began making ice for this week’s camp. Arena manager Neil Hawryliw said the ice should be ready by mid-morning on
* This year, the Jacks will conduct a special training session for goaltenders. The 12 goalies expected to be here for camp will be divided into groups of four on Wednesday and go through training directed by goaltender coach Jukka Kontsas.
CAMP SCHEDULE (L.C. Walker Arena)
Monday: Games at 2, 4 and 6 p.m.
Tuesday: Games at 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.; 3, 5 and 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Games at 2, 4 and 6 p.m.
Thursday: Games at 7:30, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.; 3, 5 and 7 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 and 9:30 a.m.; 3 and 5 p.m.
Saturday: All-star games at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.