Tanner Kaspick may have helped his chances of playing for his hometown Brandon Wheat Kings in the future with a solid intrasquad game at the Western Hockey League team’s prospects camp on Sunday.
The 16-year-old Brandonite set up both of Wade Allison’s goals Sunday morning as Team White edged Team Black 7-5 at Westman Place. Kaspick, however, felt his performance was just the icing on the cake for the weekend camp. Instead, the 5-foot-11, 184-pound left-winger was happy to reacquaint himself with the Wheat Kings organization and players after spending last season in the Midget AAA ranks.
"It was a good game out there today," said Kaspick, who was selected 25th overall in the 2013 WHL bantam draft. "I got a chance to play with some good linemates and it was good hockey. Just that extra bonus.
"… Like I said, it’s more of a chance to get along with the guys and I think that’s more the focus and I just enjoyed it."
Kaspick played most of the game with Allison, who has committed to play for Western Michigan University but attended Brandon’s camp to keep his options open, and Tristen Elder, a sixth round pick in 2012 who finished the game with three helpers.
Mark Taraschuk, Kirklan Lycar and Jeremy Klessens also scored for Team Black, while current Wheat Kings Braylon Shmyr and Jesse Gabrielle also found the back the net. Team Black score four times in the third to pull away and hung on in the third.
Brett Kitt, who spent last season with the Wheat Kings, paced Team White with a pair of goals, while prospects Nolan Patrick, Leif Mattson and Dakota Boutin supplied the other markers.
Boutin, who scored the game-winning goal for the Prince Albert Mintos in the third overtime of this year’s Telus Cup final, was happy with his camp. The 16-year-old forward, who was taken in the third round of the 2012 bantam draft, took a different approach to the camp this time despite still dealing with a nagging shoulder injury, and he felt he made the best of the situation.
"The first two years are kind of a learning process and trying to get to know the coaching staff and knowing your way around," he said. "Coming into my third prospects camp, it’s a little more of a showcase and trying to make the best impression I can. … It was pretty good. I thought I came in a little rusty. I had a little shoulder problems, but for the most part it was pretty good."
Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon was pleased with what he saw on the weekend.
He likes that the camp gives young players a chance to become more familiar with each other and Brandon’s coaches and management in a more relaxed setting than what they will experience in the fall training camp.
However, he thinks that camp will be quite competitive based on what he saw at the prospects camp.
"We’re real excited for fall camp," McCrimmon said. "Excited about the returning players of course, and the guys we saw this weekend that are going to press for jobs. It’s a good group of kids and we have some good, young players and we expected the fall camp will be competitive and what we saw this weekend I think speaks to that fact."