(Urbandale, IA) In the middle of June over 100 hockey players, ages 15-20 made the journey to Urbandale, IA and Buccaneer Arena for the 2014 Try Out Camp. This year’s camp came with many changes, the biggest change being in Head Coach Dave Allison. Camp consisted of 6 teams with 10 forwards, 5-6 defenseman and 2 goalies per team. “Having 6 teams makes camp very manageable. It made it easy for myself and our scouts to evaluate the talent which is important” said Allison. The first two sessions consisted of a quick 30-minute warm up where players got their first taste of a professionally run practice, which Allison and Paul Jerrard conducted. Sessions would then go into scrimmages. The weekend would conclude with the big All Star game taking place Saturday night and a quicker All Star session Sunday morning.
As it is every season, in the USHL teams must reload their rosters. Very rarely do you see more than 10 returning players come back to a team. Coming into camp, the Bucs were in a situation with a handful of potential returners to be on the roster. The expectation on the vets is always high because they have been a part of the league and should know what it takes to compete at this level. Allison gave his thoughts and expectations of the vets:
“We need to create a level of what is expected out of the players. We can’t really evaluate the vets until they know what they need to do. I thought they were very receptive to the change at camp. What caught my eye was that many of the returners were surprised with the caliber of players that were new to the organization. Because of this the vets learned that good is not going to be good enough going into this season.”
Change will come this season in many forms. It will be a team of new faces mixed with old. Allison said, “I really like our upside. I am most excited about that. I like our top 14 forwards. We are sold down the middle which helps everything come together.” There will also be new faces in the defensive part of the line up. “The defensemen we have coming back are all at a higher level. I like the upside of our younger talent that we will be bringing into the mix” said Allison. Between the pipes we saw two familiar faces in Billy Christopoulos and Ryan Ruck. “We have two solid starters in net” said Allison, “you can see that both Billy and Ruck are able to compete at this level. I thought he younger guys in Ahrens and Shatzer also played well at camp.” Now comes the dreaded 2 month wait until fall camp kicks off right after labor day weekend, although the coaches won’t get much of a break.
The scouting cycle never stops for coaches and scouts from the pro level all the way to junior hockey leagues. “There are always things to do. There are always players to watch and contacts to make,” said Allison. High performance and travel team tournaments have popped up all over the U.S. and Canada in the last 10 years. Allison stated “There are always opportunities to evaluate talent. We need to be more thorough in our draft approach. We have to get away from thinking good is good enough.” A new era and new philosophy of coaching has taken over the Buccaneers locker room and coaching offices.
With training camp approaching fans have wanted to know what type of team will be here once fall comes around. Allison said that:
“You will see a purposeful team. A team that is competent. We want to play with a purpose and in order to do that we have to be competent. That is made up of 3 things: knowledge, skill and attitude. But it is up to us as coaches to create that understanding.”
A new coaching staff and team will arrive this fall for the 35th anniversary of the Des Moines Buccaneers. Everybody will catch the optimism and excitement bug after Labor Day weekend once the players have reported to camp taken the ice for the first time. “It’s a great opportunity for everybody. Players can return the tradition to this team and get back to the style of hockey that earned the Bucs 4 Clark Cups. It’s a great opportunity,” says Allison.
The Des Moines Buccaneers are entering their 35th season as a member of the United States Hockey League. For more information pertaining to tickets or corporate partnerships you can contact the Buccaneers at www.buchockey.com or call at 515-278-2827.