Coyotes in camp, ready for weekend of first looks

Jen Jensen file photo

It’s been a busy off-season for Ken Law.

The head coach of the Osoyoos Coyotes just laughs as he answers a question about getting back to it this week as his hockey team opens training camp.

“There’s literally no time off,” he says of that period between April and August when the Coyotes are off the ice. “Most of the time I’m off somewhere scouting.”

Law speaks of several visits to the Lower Mainland, a few to Alberta and even camps in Las Vegas and Denver. The result is about 60 invitations to a spring camp and 40 invitations to a three-day training camp that goes today through Saturday at Sun Bowl Arena.

It’ll be a new look for the Coyotes this year — the team graduated a bunch of senior players and seven others expected to return are still vying for positions with Major Junior and Junior A clubs across Western Canada. That leaves less than a dozen returning with Coyote experience.

But despite the fresh faces, Law says his off-season work will pay off.

“We’ll be as good as last year,” he predicts. “Maybe with just a little more ‘compete.’ ”

That’s a reference to an untimely exit from the KIJHL playoffs last March following a stellar regular season.

“You’ve got to win when it counts,” he explains. “We didn’t do that last year.”

This season’s training camp opens with registration at 11 this morning, followed by fitness testing and practice this afternoon. The club will divide into two squads — Team Black (coached by assistant Carl Poole) and team White (coached by assistant Theirry Martine) — for a scrimmage game this evening at 7 p.m.

Following morning practices Friday, the two squads will play a second scrimmage late that afternoon and enjoy a meet and greet banquet Friday evening.

The split-squad format will continue Saturday with a couple of exhibition matches against the Princeton Posse scheduled for 1:30 and 4:15.

The Coyotes will play their first full-complement exhibition game Sunday evening when they host the Grand Forks Border Bruins.

Spectators are welcome throughout the training camp; there’s a $5 general admission charge for exhibition games, although anyone so inclined can watch both Saturday games for the same $5.

Law is expecting a lot of work from his young charges over the weekend.

“We had a really good recruiting year,” he said. “We’ll be a little bit younger so there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve for them.”

The club opens the regular season Sept. 10 in Revelstoke. Its first home game is Sept. 24 against the Kamloops Storm.

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