Teams across Canada’s Jr. A system, in a normal season, would be well into the weekly dynamic of the regular season. But this season, like it is across the world, is anything but normal.
Most CJHL leagues are going to begin operations later this year. The AJHL hopes that it will return to play soon, but despite no games on the schedule, teams have assembled at their home bases and have begun training together in what the league is calling a “developmental season.” The same is happening in leagues like the BCHL and others across Canada.
The Camrose Kodiaks are one team going through the developmental season. Founded in 1997, they’ve been consistently one of the top teams in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, having finished with a .500 record or better in every season since 1999.
“(The developmental season) has been a huge positive for us,” said Kodiaks head coach Clayton Jardine, who is a former NCAA player (Merrimack) and a former Kodiak, captaining the team in 2011 when the Kodiaks finished second in the Jr. A National Championship.
“Coming out of college hockey, I know the schedule and it is the exact same. We got to Camrose on the 24th of August with 24 guys and we put the work boots on. Just like college, we are working out four times a week and we are skating five times a week for about a month straight. Every Wednesday we have ‘Winning Wednesday’ where it is a straight scrimmage followed by a baseball game at night. We are still competing every Wednesday, and getting better the other four days. On the weekend we have camped, shot clay pigeons, split wood, had a spikeball tournament, had a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. It has been a challenge to keep them busy on the weekend but I give the guys credit, they have stayed positive and they have all really invested in this time to get better.”
The Kodiaks have sent 13 players to the NHL.