CHESTERVILLE – It seems funny to be concerned about hockey amidst a summer heat wave, with blades of grass as crisp as French fries, and yet that’s exactly the case for North Dundas Rockets general manager Robyn Sadler.
The sting is still there from the Rockets’ game seven loss to the Papineauville Vikings last season, but the National Capital Junior Hockey League waits for no team.
It’s time to look forward to this season.
In doing so, Sadler has signed three new players, calling their addition “significant.”
David Toppa spent the last two seasons playing in Thetford Mines, Que. for the Filons, recording 117 points in 105 games. His final season saw him put up 55 points in 31 games.
Jeremie Perreault was a linemate of the league’s rookie of the year winner, current Rocket Justin Lefebvre, during the pair’s midget hockey years. According to Sadler, Perreault is a “great skater and physical presence,” and the expectation is he’ll slot in alongside Lefebvre for instant on-ice chemistry.
The third addition is Danny Plourde-Grenon, who celebrated a league championship with Papineauville last season and now joins the team he helped beat. Plourde-Grenon was a big body on the Vikings blueline, recording 22 points in 18 games to go alongside 129 penalty minutes.
“[He] can contribute offensively, and with championship experience, he will be a nice addition to the line-up,” Sadler said.
A healthy stock of returning players will also make-up this season’s Rockets roster, with the likes of Connor Roth, Brad Stitt, Landon Veenstra, Tom Fingler, Jack van Kessel, McKay Balaton, Tyson Sherrer, Aaron Turcott, Reilly Tondreau, Brodie Barkley, Tanner Barnett, Matt Cowley, and Lefebvre all having committed to once again suiting up for North Dundas.
The Rockets will be seated in the NCJHL West Division this season, along with the South Grenville Rangers, Metcalfe Jets, the newly added Ottawa Valley Lightning and West Carleton Inferno, and Morrisburg Lions.
In the East Division, the Bytown Royals, Gatineau Hull Volants, St. Isidore Eagles, Vankleek Hill Cougars, and the Clarence Castors will all hit the ice.
Minor hockey camp
New this year will be the North Dundas Rockets’ first-ever minor hockey conditioning camp.
It’s set for Mon., Sept. 3 to Fri., Sept. 7 at Winchester’s Joel Steele Community Centre. According to Sadler, the camp will help local players prepare for their own seasons, and will be overseen by Rockets alumni, current players, and members of the coaching staff.
A wide variety of developmental skills will be focused on, including skating, stick handling, shooting, passing, and general hockey sense.
“As a club, this is our opportunity to give back to the young players in our area, get them out skating with some of our guys, and hopefully start their hockey year off in a positive fashion,” Sadler said.
The registration fee is $125 before Wed., Aug. 15, and those who sign on early enough will have their names entered into a draw to participate in the camp free of charge next year.
Those parents interested in registering their child can email Sadler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spots are limited in each respective age group.
Rockets conditioning camp
As for the main club, the Rockets will host its yearly conditioning camp Wed., Aug. 29 to Fri., Aug. 31 at the Joel Steele Community Centre.
The first two ice times start at 9 pm, and the third is at 8 pm. Registration for the camp is $75, and those participating will be selected for exhibition games to see if they can crack the Rockets’ line-up.
Any successful player chosen will not be hit with a cost to play, as the Rockets’ organization and its many volunteers fundraise year-round to provide that opportunity.
“Which is hard to come by in today’s ever-evolving junior hockey world,” Sadler said.
Those wishing to participate in the conditioning camp can email Sadler or call him at 613-809-5771.
“As an organization, we are looking forward to getting another year underway,” he said. “The atmosphere and community involvement last year was a phenomenal experience for everyone… We are hoping to earn your support again.”