The process of building the 2014-15 Topeka RoadRunners hockey team has drawn one step closer to completion with the conclusion of this weekend's final Open Tryout of the summer. Coupled with the team's Pre-Draft camp held in May, the RoadRunners coaches and staff have selected the athletes who will report to Topeka in late August to battle it out for the final roster spots. The NAHL mandates a roster of 25 players on September 1, then pared down to 23 on October 1.
This weekend camp was conducted in Woodridge, IL at the Seven Bridges Arena, where the RoadRunners have held open camps for several years. Players and their parents alike were heard over the weekend complimenting team staff on a smooth, organized and well executed camp experience. It began on Thursday with Goalie Camp being led by goalie coach Steve Briere, and concluded Sunday morning with a spirited and briskly paced All-Star game. Head Coach / GM Scott Langer, entering his 12th season with the franchise, was encouraged by what he saw. "Camp was very competitive, with every player trying to become a RoadRunner laying it on the line for 3 days. The scouting staff did an extremely good job of bringing the talent to camp. The competition has made a lot of difficult decisions for this staff and that's a good thing at this time of the year." Langer added, "I am very proud of my entire staff for the work they put into this phase of building this year's Topeka RoadRunners."
Assistant Coach Josh Kamrass, entering his third season behind the bench, was also impressed. "I thought this was best overall camp we have had in a while. It was a good crop of young players who competed extremely hard. The RoadRunner message was sent from day one and it was received by the players immediately. The pace was fast from the first drop of the puck and relentless throughout." The solid competition leads to a difficult choice for the staff. "The guys made our decisions very tough but we feel that the players we have coming to Topeka in August will allow us to continue to put a winning team on the ice and take the next step as an organization in our quest to win the Robertson Cup. Our scouts, Steve Jennings, Anthony Palumbo, Nicholas Martino and Tom Kelly did an exceptional job once again at finding quality hockey players and quality young men. Hats off to them they are the best in the league."
The team Director of Player Personnel, Steve Jennings, came away from the camp with a great sense of accomplishment. "We were absolutely excited by the prospects at camp this year. The players all showed up in shape, excited and competed very hard for a spot on our team. They made our decisions very difficult, which is a true compliment to the skill and compete level they brought. I had challenged our recruiting staff to bring the best players to camp and I can honestly say they exceeded my expectations."
RoadRunners team owner Don Stone was on hand and he, too, expressed his satisfaction with the camp overall. "Every year I continue to be impressed by the talent we draw to our camps. I'm very inspired by how well the coaching and scouting staff organize and run this camp. Finally, the support that we get from several Off-Ice officials simply amazes me. A big thank you goes out to all involved with putting this camp together."
The RoadRunners 2014-15 regular season opens with a pair of games against the Corpus Christi Ice Rays on September 12 and 13 at Landon Arena in the Kansas Expocentre. The annual NAHL Showcase takes place in Blaine, MN, beginning the following Wednesday. The team will play a 60-game schedule that concludes in March 2015, with playoffs in April and May. The players stay with host families, called "billet" families. The team is looking for families who would be interested in hosting a RoadRunner in their homes during the season. For more information, visit the team website here: http://bit.ly/1skqFY6 or e-mail Lynn Holthaus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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