By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock have added two more players to their roster in preparation for the opening of training camp Monday night.
Forward Corey Sprague (50, 2-6-8, 60), who will turn 20 early in the 2016-17 season, comes to the Timmins Rock by way of the Saint-Jérôme Panthères, of the QJAAAHL.
“Corey will bring a lot of spunk to our lineup,” said Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“He works hard and he is about 5-9 (officially listed at 5-7, 161 pounds) and he is the type of player who is just relentless.
“He works hard in the corners. He finishes his checks. He is very aggressive and he plays a 200-foot game.”
Sprague’s 2015-16 stats might not look all that impressive, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some offensive flair to his game.
“Two years ago, he scored quite a few goals and accumulated quite a few points but last year he played mostly on the Panthères third line and accepted his role on the team,” Gagne said.
“He was used to shut down the other team’s top forwards, so you know he can play great defensively and he has the upside of being able to score goals.
“We feel he is going to be a good addition to our team.”
Sprague came on the Rock radar thanks to the father of one of their former players.
“(Former Rock defenceman) Brennan McGuire’s dad is involved with the Saint-Jérôme team,” Gagne said.
“He told us about this kid, who is also a good friend of Brennan McGuire. He spoke very highly of him.”
It remains to be seen exactly what role Sprague will fill on the 2016-17 Timmins Rock, but that will likely be determined during training camp.
“He could wind up on the first line, the second or the third,” Gagne said.
“That is the kind of player you want, somebody with flexibility. We will be looking to put him in a spot where he will have chemistry with the other two players on his line.”
Seventeen-year-old forward Jacob Shankar (40, 14-16-30, 66) comes to the Rock from the Brockville Braves, of the HEOMAAA.
“I watched him play three weeks or so ago during a showcase event at St. Andrew’s College,” Gagne said.
“There were a lot of major junior players there, as well as NCAA players, and he fit in so well I couldn’t believe it.
“He has a lot of skills and you can tell he has been well coached in the past. He has a nice touch around the net.”
It was Shankar’s play without the puck that impressed Gagne the most, however.
“He was always in good position,” he said.
“The puck seemed to follow him around the ice for some reason and he made something happen with the puck every time he got it. He sees the play well, he has good vision on the ice and he has a good shot.
“He has got good size and he finishes his checks.”
With the addition of Sprague and Shankar, the Rock now have 10 forwards on their roster — including Jordan Rendle, Bain Cunningham, Joel Grandbois, Nick Siracuse, Cole Gilligan, Wayne Mathieu, Kyle Levis and Alexandre Brisson.
On defence, the team has returnees Nick Hautanen, Jared Hester and Spencer Segui back, as well as newcomers Grant McClellan and A.J. Holenski.
In net, the Rock have Matthew Nixon and Devon Debastos scheduled to return.
Training camp will open at the McIntyre Arena on Monday, with the Rock on the ice from 9:30-11 p.m.
Camp will continue on Tuesday, from 10-11:30 p.m., Wednesday, from 9-10:30 p.m., and Thursday, from 9:30-11 p.m.
The team will travel to Kirkland Lake on Friday for an exhibition game against the Gold Miners at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex, starting at 7:30 p.m.
The two teams will then face off at the McIntyre Arena on Saturday, Sept. 27. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.