Saturday, June 7, 2014

B³ Preview: 2014 Lincoln Stars Tryout Camp

Ridder Arena - Minneapolis, MN
With the Lincoln Stars 2014 tryout camp less than a week away, I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick preview for those interested.  Last year at the 2013 tryout camp, 115 players were in attendance, divided into six teams.  The 2014 camp will also have six teams, so I am assuming another group of 110+ players will be competing.  Click here to view the camp schedule.

Let's first look briefly at the Lincoln players from last season who *could* be in attendance:

From 2013-14 season:
F - Hunter Anderson ('94)
F - Thomas Carey
F - Blake Christensen
F - Jonathan Desbiens (import)
F - Ludwig Hoff (import)
F - Max Humitz
F - Biagio Lerario
F - Dominick Sacco
F - Brandon Smith ('94)
F - Luke Voltin
F - Keegan Ward
D - Connor Frantti ('94)
D - Patrick Gazzillo 
D - Tristan Rostagno
G - Jacob Nehama

Players born in 1994 are considered "overagers" in the eyes of the USHL next season.  Each USHL team can roster only (4) overagers on their team.  Also, teams can roster only (4) import players (players born outside of the USA).

Just because a player spent last season with the Stars doesn't mean that they automatically have a spot on the roster for next season.  We have seen veteran players in the past get cut after the tryout camp, so nothing is guaranteed.  Everyone has to earn a spot.  More so now than in years prior, all roster spots are up for grabs with a new general manager (Jon Hull) and head coach (Chris Hartsburg) on board.

Per the USHL, the Lincoln Stars and every other team in the league must cut down to 30 players on its main roster and another 18 on its affiliate roster by July 10.  Then just before the 2014-15 regular season begins, the coaches will cut down to 23 players on the main roster.  Those 23 players will start the regular season on the main roster.

For the majority of the 2013-14 regular season, the Stars rostered a total of 14 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders (23 total players).  So when you consider the number of veteran players coming back, all of the former draft picks, and then all of the free agent invites, there will be a lot of competition for only 23 spots on the roster.  

Tryout camp can definitely be an intimidating atmosphere for a new player.  If a player shows up and has a bad couple of days, there's good reason to believe that they might not make it on the roster, or even worse, not get protected by the Stars..  It doesn't mean that player is bad, or isn't deserving, but the camp can be a pressure cooker.  If you don't impress the coaches in those couple of days at camp, you can easily find yourself on the outside looking in.

One of the things I enjoy most about the tryout camp every year is watching the invited non-drafted players who come out of nowhere and perform very well.  Last year, it was forwards Brandon Smith and  Hunter Anderson.  Two years ago it was forward Michael Neville from Canada.  Three years ago it was forward Will Suter and goaltender Charles Williams.  

Each year it seems like a few "free agent" players appear at camp as relative unknowns to make the team.  Can't wait to see those players in action.  It is definitely a lot harder for a non-drafted player to make the team, and I enjoy rooting for those "underdog" players.

The above is just one fan's opinion.  I'll post a quick article on Tuesday before I leave for Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon.  

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