Warman Wildcat Bengals player Tegan Prpich of Kenaston

Some of the best young hockey talent in Saskatchewan was on display as Dalmeny and Aberdeen hosted SaskFirst Regional  Camps from February 3-5.

Dalmeny hosted the Female Under-16 North Camp while the South Camp was in Pense. 

  The Female Sask First High Performance Program begins every February with regional camps held across the province and are open to all players in the U16 category. From there, the top players are invited to take part in the Sask First Tournament held March 31- April 2 at the Co-Operators Centre in Regina. 

James Mays of  Hockey Sask shared the importance of the camp and the role it plays.

“Over a dozen years the sport has evolved,” said Mays. The kids are physically stronger; they shoot the puck better, and they can do so many things better.

“Camps are for everyone, you do not have to be play bantam AA or U13AA. It is open to anyone. If you live near a bigger centre you may get to play AA hockey. But for someone in the outlying areas with no team within 150 miles, the camp gives them a chance to compete to see where they are at.”

Warman Wildcats Evangeline Dobson (Clavet) clears the puck out of harm’s way during the Under-16 North Camp gold vs green game on Saturday morning in Dalmeny

Also, a player who’s not on any team’s radar could make a big impression with the  people from AAA organizations who are in the stands taking it all in.

Additionally, the Female Under-18 provincial camp was held in Southey last weekend, with their Sask First Tournament in Regina set for April 14-16 or May 5-7 depending on ice availability.

The process ensures all players not only have the opportunity to compete with their peers, but also receive significant exposure. All Sask First events are attended by scouts from elite leagues, and can be a gateway to Hockey Canada’s Female High Performance Program, which includes their National Teams. With the planned formation of a Saskatchewan Female Junior Hockey the U18 camps  provide more opportunities for players moving on.

The Male Under-15 held camps/tournament in December. The final selections from these are set to compete in the Sask Male U15 Top 80 Tournament February 17-19 in Balgonie. Area players that will be competing include Corman Park’s Nigel Boehm and Martensville’s Cohen Klassen, Broden Wotherspoon, and Easton Woytiuk.

Aberdeen hosted the Male Under 18 camp for athletes in zone 5-8 (North). Lumsden hosted players from regions 1-4 (South).

The U18 male camps are intended to recognize the talent and abilities of those players playing below the U18 “AAA” level.

Warman Bengals Emily King (Waldheim) slides across to make a save on a one-timer by Warman Wildcats Reese Dyky (Warman) during the goaltender session on Saturday morning

The Sask First Under-18 Program is an excellent opportunity for players to showcase their talent and ability in front of many scouts from the SJHL and WHL. Players chosen to progress from these camps will be selected to compete in the U18 Tournament April 21-23 at Co-Operators Centre in Regina.

“That is exactly what this camp is for,” said Mays. “It gives them one more chance to impress a junior scout. It might be Junior A, Junior B or it might give them a chance to play somewhere, maybe even college.”

The Sask First Program was designed to provide a better understanding of the game as well as to promote the development of quality players, coaches, trainers, officials and administrators.

“We have all female coaches,” said Mays. “Most of the ladies are coaching somewhere and they will also work with us within Sask Hockey. When we have teams that go to national championships their names are in the running to be involved with those teams as well.

“Working with other coaches provides a great learning experience as they mingle and talk about drills they do.”

The camps also provide a great learning experience for on-ice officials.

Female Officials ages 15 and older were given a chance to  officiate the U18 Female Provincial Camp and/or U16 Female Regional Camps in February.

Officials received coaching and evaluation from official coaches and high-level female officials at the camps, which gives them an opportunity to receive additional coaching to help with their development and get exposed to high level hockey in a controlled environment.

Male officials looking to receive high-performance coaching were encouraged to register to work one of two U18 Regional camps. This camp provided the opportunity for officials to work in both referee and linesperson roles and receive feedback from an official’s coach.