About 75 players took part in the Estevan Bruins' training camp on the weekend. With the preseason now underway, the tough decisions begin.
The tally included 44 forwards, 27 defencemen and five goalies.
Scrimmages were held on Friday and Saturday, with the four teams (black, gold, white, red) each playing three games.
That was followed by the annual Black and Gold Game on Sunday, which Team Black won for the second straight year.
1995-born forward Keegan Allison scored a hat trick to lead the Black side to a 6-3 victory.
"I wasn't playing that good in the first couple of games, and then I came to this game and I just felt a lot better," said Allison, who is from Saskatoon.
Other goal scorers for Black were Adam Osczevski ('95), Hudson Morrison ('94) and Brett Dumaine ('94). Estevan product Dylan Johner ('94) had three assists.
Every goal in the game was scored by a prospect.
For Gold, the scorers were Wyatt Trumbley ('94), Ben Williams ('94) and Wyatt Garagan ('94).
Morrison, who played part of last season with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines, was perhaps the most high-profile youngster in camp and didn't disappoint.
"I had a blast getting back on the ice and playing physical hockey and good, competitive hockey. I think I had a very good camp and showed my skill very well," he said.
"I think I've made a very good impression. I'm happy and hopefully the coaches are too."
Aside from Morrison, Bruins head coach Keith Cassidy added that Williams, recent acquisition Nick Weiss and goalies Brett Lewchuk ('95) and Ryland Pashovitz ('95) were among the players who impressed, along with a litany of defencemen.
"On the back end, where it's going to be a real dogfight, there are as many as 12 guys in the conversation for what we think is going to be eight spots to start the year," said Cassidy.
"I think most of the guys looked around and realized there are some tough decisions to be made here. I think their performance reflected that."
One of those rearguards in the mix is 17-year-old Zach Douglas, one of the team's top defence prospects.
"I think Zach Douglas has made a very, very good case for himself. On defence, there's a logjam there right now and as a '95, he's still in the conversation. We'll see how he handles the intensity as it gets going, but right now it's looking good for him," Cassidy said.
At the other end of the spectrum on the back end is veteran Connor Milligan, who was widely considered a standout on the weekend. He said there was some motivation to have a good summer in the gym.
"Coming back for your 20-year-old season, you want to put everything into your last year and try to make the most of it and make some memories with the boys," Milligan said.
"I've added a bit of offensive style to my game and it's working out for me out there. I'm jumping into the play and not sitting back on my heels as much as I was last year."
Cassidy felt Milligan and Froese stood out as returnees who looked to be in improved form.
"I think Tanner Froese had a monster off-season. His speed and strength are things that guys are going to have to be worried about this year."
Matt Brykaliuk is another second-year forward who showed well at camp, and the Bruins are moving him back to his natural position of centre, where he is expected to anchor the second line.
"The guy has talent to burn. He's done a lot of good work in the off-season, for him, trying to bulk up. It's funny, as slight as he might be right now, he's probably gained 10-12 pounds over the summer," said Cassidy.
One of the more intriguing cases in camp was that of 16-year-old Bienfait product Lynnden Pastachak, who has done nothing but impress at spring camp and now training camp. He will head back to Yorkton for his second year of midget AAA, as the Bruins have a logjam up front as it is.
"In any other year, he might be in the conversation to play in the SJ as a 16-year-old," said Cassidy. "He's shown real well and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do in the future," said Cassidy.
The Bruins had 30 players left in camp as of Monday and were expecting to pare that down to 27 or 28 by mid-week.
"Obviously you want to be down to reasonable numbers sooner rather than later, but I think there are guys here who deserve a look, and if we don't provide that to them then we're doing them a disservice, and we're doing us a disservice as well," said Cassidy.
The team played Notre Dame in the annual rookie game on Monday and will host Weyburn in preseason action tonight at 7:30 p.m.