The Marquette Rangers will hold the team's final camp this weekend at The Berry Events Center at Northern Michigan University. The second-year North American Hockey League franchise will use this weekend to evaluate talent and pick the preliminary roster for the 2007-08 Rangers from nearly 70 hopefuls from around the country.
"This is the final step for players hoping to become Marquette Rangers," said head coach Randy Enders. "We've seen these guys at our camps in Marquette, Chicago and Detroit and now is the hard part: determining who the elite players are from this group.
"The neat part of this process for fans is the chance to see some really competitive hockey in July, because these guys are literally fighting for their hockey lives at this final tryout. Any player here can make the team, but it'll only be the players who give us their very best who will wear our jersey starting in September."
Enders, assistant coach Dieter Kochan and members of the Rangers recruiting staff will asses the players in game situations, with final all-star games are on Sunday. The angers are scheduled to release the preliminary roster for training camp on Monday, July 16.
Nine members of last year's team will also be in camp to try and regain their spot with the second year team, including goaltenders Beau Christian and Matt Brooker.
Brooker, 18, from Richmond, Va., says it will be a tough camp since the Rangers are now an established Junior A program.
"Now that guys know about Marquette, we're going to see better and better players coming to camps" said Brooker. "When a team is new, sometimes you don't get the number of quality players because guys sort of wait and see how good that team will be. Our success with making the playoffs last year means it's going to be tougher to make the team this season, which should make us an even better team than we were in the first year."
Former Rangers Nic Weight, Nick Condon, James Gallagher, Mike Macari, Mike O'Brien, Dustin Partacz and Derek Grogan will also be looking to reclaim spots on the roster for the upcoming season.
The camp will also feature the Rangers two picks from May's NAHL draft: Anthony Leone of Detroit Honeybaked and Garrett Ladd of Detroit Victory Honda.
In addition, the seven players tendered by the club prior to the NAHL draft will be skating for a spot on the final roster: Ian Andrews of Sheboygan (Wis.) High School and Team Wisconsin; Josh Bussell of Honeybaked; Kyle Jean of the Sault Ste. Marie Indians Midget AAA; Josh Kesler of Victory Honda; Kevin Kranker of downstate Lake Orion High School; Tyler Mathews of the Buffalo Junior Sabres; and Collin Saint-Onge of the Marquette Electricians Midget AAA..
Also skating for a spot with the Rangers will be Aaron Pietila, who was obtained in a pre-draft trade with Traverse City.
"The returning guys will have a bit of an advantage," added Enders. "They have a good idea now of what it takes to compete at this level so I expect them to have some success at this camp, but there are no guarantees; so the returning guys will have to fight just as hard as everyone else. I hope people come and take this in this weekend because it's going to be really good hockey."