Establishing A Roster
Rebels About A Month Away From Start Of Training Camp
One month ago, the coaching staff of the Jamestown Rebels welcomed 130 players to Northwest Arena to compete for a chance to make their roster for the upcoming North American Hockey League season.
Now that number has shrunk by around 100.
After a full weekend of scrimmages, with players being cut over the course of three days, head coach Joe Coombs now has a much better idea of what his roster will look like for the team’s second season in Jamestown.
“Your season ends and then you have to figure out who is coming back and what exactly you have to put together for your draft,” said Coombs. “You have your main camp, which is the fruit of your scouting staff’s labor from all year long.”
In early June, the Rebels’ staff gathered for a full day of drafting, selecting defenseman Cooper Swift with their first pick of the day before taking goaltender Jon Howe 61st overall.
When the team gathered for main camp at the end of June, Howe was one of many players in attendance who was eyed by Billy Pugliese, the director of scouting, prior to draft day.
“We had to have a goalie. He is somebody who was on our radar all year long,” Coombs said of Howe. “He played for a good friend of mine that we have always gotten good players from. He was sort of the guy we identified as who we wanted. I think he got better and better as camp went on but, again, he’s a first-year guy.”
What Coombs has come to know well during his tenure in the NAHL is that successful teams return a lot of players–with league leaders like Aberdeen and Johnstown often bringing back a dozen or more from the previous season.
“It’s not that you can’t win without returning players. There is just such a learning curve from youth hockey to junior hockey,” said Coombs.
Coombs added: “When you have returning players to your team, you can get off to a quicker start because there’s not as much that they have to comprehend.”
Jamestown will have the benefit of returning forwards Eric Olson, Lewis Crosby and Noah Finstrom as well as defensemen Nate Clark and Seth Bergeron and goaltender Noah West.
Finstrom led that group of forwards with eight goals and 21 assists in 60 games while Bergeron had a strong year for the Rebels on the blue line, collecting two goals and 13 assists while finishing at plus 24 after 50 games.
West led the Rebels in net through 24 games, finishing at 12-7-4-1 with a 2.29 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage.
“I expect big things (from Bergeron). We gave him a letter a year ago. This will be Seth’s third year. (We) expect a ton of leadership from him,” said Coombs.
The Rebels will get set for their regular training camp on Aug. 30, where approximately 30 players are expected to be in attendance for the start of the year, barring any changes.
Players will meet with team doctors for physicals before playing a series of exhibition games and preparing to travel to Blaine, Minnesota for the annual NAHL Showcase on Sept. 18-21.
One of the best things about Jamestown’s start to this season is that the team has already had a year to settle into their new home at Northwest Arena.
“Last year we were still moving stuff in to the rink at 1 in the morning and camp started a day or two later,” said Coombs. “The structure and the foundation, we have a year in place and our organization is growing. We have some footing and that is important for the players.”