Vimy Ridge hockey camp helps local talent stay sharp on the ice 

Some of Edmonton's top major junior hockey players are keeping their skills sharp in the Vimy Ridge junior prep hockey camp, which is expected to run until the WHL hockey season starts up in December or January.

As many as 50 players have signed up for the camp which will run month-to-month

Edmonton Oil Kings head coach Brad Lauer explains a drill at the Vimy Junior prep hockey camp at the Meadows Recreation Centre. (Min Dhairwal/CBC)

Some of Edmonton's top major junior hockey players are keeping their skills sharp at the Meadows Community Recreation Centre. 

Dylan Guenther would like nothing more than to be skating up and down the wing at Rogers Place dazzling fans with his blazing speed, but the 17-year-old Edmonton Oil Kings standout will have to settle for the ice at Meadows for the time being.

"Our main goal is to get better and play games," said Guenther, who led all 16-year-old rookies last season in the WHL with 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points. 

"I mean, if we can't play games then this is a good way to do it, too," he added referring to the Vimy Ridge junior prep camp, which has been running since the beginning of September.

'Trying to bridge the gap'

Players at the camp include some of the best junior hockey players in the Edmonton area. The camp was organized by the Vimy Ridge Academy, a sports-based school located in Bonnie Doon. 

Kurtis Mucha is the director of goaltending at the academy and helped organize the camp, which runs four days a week, with two sessions per day. 
Vimy Ridge goaltending director Kurtis Mucha, watches camp from behind the glass. (Min Dhariwal/CBC)

"We're just trying to bridge a gap for the players and just give them something they can look forward to every day and keep them ready for whenever they get the green light," Mucha said. 

The camp is run by WHL coaches, as well as the occasional guest NHL associate coach.

"They need a consistent schedule and Vimy Ridge was able to accommodate that for them," said Mucha. 

"We're bringing in skills coaches from all over; we had Mike Ellis who works for the Tampa Bay Lightning, he flew in for the first week. We've got other guys coming in next month ... local coaches in the area, Ryan Marsh, Luke Pierce, Brad Lauer."

'More nervous you get' 

For some players, the camp is a chance to take their minds off missing out on a chance of a lifetime. 

Sherwood Park's Kaiden Guhle, a bruising six-foot-three defenceman who plays for the Prince Albert Raiders, is predicted to go high in the first round of the upcoming 2020 NHL entry draft. 

"Obviously you think about it a little bit, but the more you think about it the more nervous you get," said Guhle, who is expected to be picked somewhere around 15th overall.

"It would have been nice for it to happen in June and to get to go there and experience that whole thing, but like I said earlier, this is something that's bigger than the game right now. [I'm] going to have to wait it out and be patient."