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Young guns to invade Camrose

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers
Oilers 2008 first round draft choice, Jordan Eberle, will be among the Oilers prospects playing in the tournament.

The Edgeworth Centre in Camrose, AB will host the Oil Country Rookie Tournament September 14-16, 2008. (photo: Andy Devlin/EOHC)
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Hockey fans from Alberta, B.C., and abroad will be turning their attention to Camrose in mid-September as young prospects from the Oilers, Flames, and Canucks organizations descend on the spacious and sparkling Edgeworth Centre for the three-game Oil Country Rookie Tournament, presented by ATCO. Starting with two Oilers rookie practice sessions on Saturday, September 13 and concluding with a battle between the Oilers and Canucks prospects on Tuesday, September 16, the high-energy tournament will provide coaches, management, scouts, and fans to study the next generation of West Division all-stars.

“Bringing the Oilers and the Flames and the Canucks in a rookie context to Camrose is really going to be something special,” says Oilers President & C.E.O. Patrick LaForge. “It will be competitive to the max, the line-ups will be talented, the stands will be full, and the newspapers and press and media will be giving Camrose its full and watchful eye.”

Kevin Prendergast, Oilers Assistant General Manager, expects intense competition between the players and, in turn, an entertaining tournament for fans.

“When you’re in the big camp and you’re a young player, 18 or 19 years old, and you’re going up against Ethan Moreau or Sheldon Souray, you’re a little bit timid – you don’t play the way you normally should. So I think in games like this, all three teams have the same scenario, they are out to impress their bosses and their organization so it makes for good competition,” Prendergast says. “We’ve got some very, very good young players coming in, we’ve got some high-profile kids that we signed over the summer, and it’s a good opportunity for them to showcase themselves.”

Officials predict the on-ice enthusiasm will be matched only by the enthusiasm of the local hockey community, proud supporters of the Oilers and their own reigning Doyle Cup champions, the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. According to Mayor Clarence Mastel, the city and surrounding communities are excited about starting their busy hockey season – which includes the 2008 World Junior A Challenge in November – with the Oil Country Rookie Tournament.

“For the Oilers organization to consider us is phenomenal, and it just puts another notch in our belt in terms of the other global events we’ll be hosting here,” he says. “The Oiler organization has a good fan base here, but they’ve always been really committed to the grassroots and we’re very appreciative of that.”

Chad Kendall, President of Camrose Minor Hockey, agrees.     

“We anticipate a great turnout as this will be family affordable and it will be a great benefit for the kids to see the NHL come to town. This is an exciting avenue for Camrose to showcase the Edgeworth Centre and to display our strong hockey fanbase and our great volunteer force.”

Tournament tickets will be sold as three-day tournament passes for $30 and will go on sale to the general public starting August 25. For more information, please contact the Camrose Kodiaks office at (780) 679-2603.
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