ROADRUNNERS PRE-DRAFT CAMP IN FULL SWING
by Arch Ecker
The sounds of pucks rattling off boards and glass, skates cutting the ice, and coaches barking instructions fill the air this weekend in Somerset, WI as the Topeka RoadRunners conduct their annual Pre-Draft Training Camp. It’s been just over a month since the RoadRunners playoff run came to an end, capping another season that, while short of a championship, was a great success. The club set a franchise high for success on home ice, and once again helped several players reach their dreams of playing Division I hockey.
“Building a solid program doesn’t happen overnight”, explained Head Coach and General Manager Scott Langer, who has piloted the RoadRunners since 2004, averaging better than 38 wins a year with a career winning percentage of .695. “It’s literally a 12-month process. You have to always be looking ahead, and we are fortunate that our ownership is committed to giving us the ability to do that.” That means having active scouts across the country, to help identify potential RoadRunners. These scouts provide an invaluable service to the organization.
The camp is Somerset is scheduled on the calendar to precede the NAHL Entry Draft, which will take place Tuesday, June 9 at 1:00 pm CDT. “We feel it’s an integral part of the process”, Langer explained. “This is an opportunity for the players to get in front of our entire staff, and for our staff to see the players that want to be drafted by the RoadRunners.” According to NAHL.com, “The NAHL Entry Draft shall consist of the number of rounds necessary for each Club’s protected list to reach 30 total players. The thirty players shall be made up of veteran players, tendered players and drafted players.”
In any open camp such as this one, the coaches have a very specific target. “We want competitors, those that will battle and play 200 foot game”, Langer says. But flashy goal scoring, bone crunching hits and anything else that happens on the ice is only one piece of the puzzle. “We watch very closely how a player conducts himself on and off the ice. That’s a huge part of our evaluation process, sometimes overlooked by players.”
With over 100 players in camp, even Langer’s watchful and trained eyes need support. Assistant Coaches Josh Kamrass and Anthony Bohn are there, along with goalie coach Steve Briere. Also lending a hand are coaches Mike Richardson (Billings Bulls, NA3HL), and RC Lyke (Richmond Generals, USPHL). Equipment manager Jamaal Baribeau is there along with a contingent of Topeka’s off-ice official crew, including Steph Mason, JR Ruiz, and Brad Schlyer.
The RoadRunners final camp is set for July 9-12 at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Chicago, IL.