The return of Garrett Dunlop to the Nanaimo Buccaneers is a bit of bittersweet news for the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey Club.
They wanted to see last year's rookie scoring sensation succeed at the next level, but they are happy they will have him back in the lineup, even if it is for a short time.
"Garrett's a competitor, he won't go away and I think you'll see him come out of the gates pretty hard and hopefully get another opportunity," said head coach Brad Knight. "You're always going to get pushed down. .. and hockey challenges you to get back up off the ground and dust yourself off and keep going."
Dunlop was a camp casualty of the Nanaimo Clippers on Wednesday night. Last year the first year Buccaneers with 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists) in 48 games, good enough for sixth in the VIJHL overall and tops among all rookies.
However, he was unable to separate himself during the B.C. Hockey League club's training camp.
With the Buccaneers, he instantly becomes one of the VIJHL's most dangerous weapons, and will be in the lineup for at least one of their final two exhibition games, hosting the Campbell River Storm tonight at 7 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre and on Saturday at the Oceanside Generals at 7 p.m. Dunlop is not someone Knight is worried about in those two games.
He will be focused on the rest of his top six, where there is still some in decision, hoping in particular returning vets Will McNamara, Riel Gibson and Daniel Foglietta step up.
"I want to see them establish themselves as top-end guys, not only on our team but in our league," he said.
The future of some of the Western Hockey League prospects they were waiting on has been decided as both Dylan Coghlan and Jordan Topping signed with Tri-City Americans.
Nick Gomerich and Patrick Bajkov are also still at WHL camps, while starting goalie Riley Medves (Yorkton Terriers) and defenceman/forward Derian Hamilton (North Battleford North Stars) have left for Saskatchewan Junior A Hockey League camps.
They are also down to three goalies where Ryan Waldhaus, Dade Beaudry-Young and Vancouver's Matt Santorelli are fighting over the two spots.
Still, Knight likes the make up of his team, particularly on the back end where rookie blueliners Dayton Boutillier and Kyle MacDonald have looked excellent through camp.
"Hopefully they're going to be one-year players in our organization," said Knight.
"They're both going to play in our top six (defencemen), they're going to play a lot and I think they're going to both have great years."
ICE NOTES - Forward David Osborne was also reassigned by the Clippers to the Buccaneers. .. Top six-forwards Lynden Eddy and Lee Orpen are both out with injuries.
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