It might be a year or two for some of them, but just having the chance to take the ice in front of the Tribe’s coaching and management staff over the last two days is a step in the right direction.
One player who has seen and done this all before is Kirk Mullen, a 16-year-old Prairie Hockey Academy standout who was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft and is taking the ice in his second Warriors rookie camp at Mosaic Place.
“I definitely feel comfortable and confident out there, it’s my second year going through rookie camp so I’ve taken advantage if it and played to the top of my ability, as much as I can,” Mullen said after Team White’s second game of the event Friday afternoon.
“The first rookie camp really helped me and taught me what you have to do, the effort you have to put in and the hard work that comes with it, everything you have to do to have a chance to make the team.”
That’s proven valuable, as with another year of experience, size and skill under his belt, the pressure is on to show his stuff against players his age or younger.
“I’m a second year, so I’m just going as hard as I can,” Mullen said. “I know I’m an older player out there so I have to play like it and that’s basically what I’m trying to go.”
Mullen is coming off an impressive campaign with the PHA Cougars Elite 15 team, where he scored 21 goals and 22 assists for 43 points in 32 games for the first-year Canadian Sport School Hockey League squad. He led the Cougars in scoring and was one of the top scoring players in the CSSHL Elite 15 league.
The 6-foot-1, 162-pound right winger emerged as one of the top players out of the Midget AAA Warriors’ camp last weekend, but has his entire focus on cracking the big Warriors’ roster this time around.
“I’m putting a lot into making the team this year, and if it doesn’t happen I’ll go back to AAA and play as hard as I can to keep improving and get ready for next year,” Mullen said.
Joining him from the PHA is fellow 16-year-old Atley Calvert, who led the Cougars with 24 goals while putting up 41 points. The 5-foot-10, 173-pound centre was listed by the Warriors in the off season.
The other three Moose Jaw products – Hunter Bowes, Chase Jocelyn and Carter Price -- suited up for the Moose Jaw Bantam ‘AA’ Warriors last season and as 15-year-old camp invitees won’t be able to play for the Tribe this season but are still getting a long look through rookie camp.
Bowes, a 5-foot-11, 158-pound forward, scored twice and picked up eight points for the Warriors last season in the Saskatchewan AA Hockey League Bantam division while Jocelyn, a 5-foot-7, 140-pound centre, was second in scoring for the Tribe with eight goals and 14 points in 27 games. Price, a 6-foot-0, 175-pound defenceman, was the Warriors’ top scoring rearguard with two goals and nine points through 27 games.
Rookie camp wrapped up on Friday night with Price and Calvert’s Team Black taking on Jocelyn and Bowes on Team Red. Players were assigned to main camp teams after the game or returned to their respective club teams.
Main camp kicks off Saturday at 10 a.m. with the first scrimmage, followed by a goaltenders’ session at 11:30 a.m. and a second scrimmage at 4 p.m.
Teams are back on the ice Sunday at 10 a.m., with the annual Black White Intrasquad Game at 4 p.m. Admission is by donation with proceeds going to the Canadian Mental Health Association in memory of Ethan Williams.