Slowly, the Soo Greyhounds roster is taking shape.
Following four days of training camp, the initial group that started the week has been trimmed to 40 players following a pair of scrimmages Thursday at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
It was a mix of veterans and rookies that used the day to leave a mark on the Greyhounds brass.
In the evening scrimmage, rookie forward Tyler Savard got into his first game action of the week after missing the earlier scrimmages due to injury.
Including some time at points on a line with first round picks Bryce McConnell-Barker and Justin Cloutier, the young players impressed.
“That’s good to see because it’s a glimpse into the future of the team as well as the present,” Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis said. “It’s good to see Savard out there because sometimes this time of year, whether it’s a hip pointer or a groin (injury), everything is a little sore when you’re getting back in the swing of things. I didn’t think he missed a beat jumping in there toward the end of camp when the other guys have been skating all week.
“It’s good to see the young guys playing with confidence, whether it’s Cloutier or McConnell-Barker, they’re playing with a lot of speed,” Raftis added. “They’re both incredibly competitive players, so it’s a neat thing to see when they’re both feeding off of each other.”
Veteran forward Alex Johnston also left a mark following Thursday’s scrimmages and was one of a number of veterans that Raftis said helped set the tone for camp after seeing their first scrimmage action on Wednesday.
“Alex was driving a lot of plays today and creating a lot of chances and finished a few of them off,” Raftis said. “It was good to see because Alex always works incredibly hard.
Potential overage candidate Billy Constantinou has not suited up in a scrimmage through Thursday for the Greyhounds.
The veteran defenceman is ready to play, but because of the league vaccination policy, the 20-year-old hasn’t joined the team yet.
Raftis said that Constantinou “has everything now, but you have to wait 14 days after your second shot, and he hasn’t hit that point yet.”
Following Thursday’s evening scrimmage, the team announced 13 cuts.
The group includes 2004 birth-year goaltender Nolan Dunn, 2005 birth-year defencemen Anthony Ciaramitaro and Ty Campbell, and 2005 birth-year forwards Owen Shore, Stephen Campbell, E.J. Paddington, Connor Clattenburg, and Zack Corte.
Also among those released/reassigned were goaltender Nathaniel Boyes, defenceman Kaden Dundas, and forwards Liam Filip, Jacob McLellan, and Kyle Den Ouden. All five players were invited to camp as free agents.
The remaining 40 players have been split into two rosters ahead of Friday’s Red/White game.
The remaining group includes six members of the Greyhounds 2021 draft class and of the six, three are defenceman, including Sault product Austin Fellinger. Along with Andrew Gibson and Blair Scott.
“Gibson has been really good on both sides of the puck. He’s moved pucks well and getting up into the play. He’s got a great shot and you saw that a lot this week. Defending-wise, he’s not shy. He takes away a lot of space and he’s got a physical presence to him,” Raftis said.
“Scott has gotten a little better as the week has gone on moving pucks offensively,” Raftis added. “Defensively, he’s been really good taking pucks away from guys with a good stick.”
Raftis called Fellinger “a little bit of a quiet player.”
“He takes care of things defensively,” Raftis added. “He’s been really steady. After each round of cuts, the game speeds up more and there’s more quality of play and it’s a good test for all three of them.”
When it comes to final numbers heading into the season, Raftis said “we’re probably going to be starting the year with a few extra players with the extra OA’s around and guys going to NHL camps.”
Heading into Friday, Raftis said the group of remaining 2004 birth-year players “is probably giving us the toughest decisions.”
“That’s the group that you’re hoping can make that step,” Raftis added. “In a lot of ways, that sets your team up to see what kind of depth you have and what kind of guys can push those older guys in different situations. I’m excited about that ’04 group a lot.”