Future players set to enter Gibsons in May

Giancarlo Nadeau

 

It may not be September, but the COASTAL TSUNAMI has already been turning heads in the hockey community.

 

Led by General Manager and Head Coach Brad Wingfield and Director of Player Personnel Jeff Nottingham, the inaugural Tsunami squad hopes to be highly competitive.

 

The organization will hold its first-ever Spring Prospects Camp on May 3/4/5, 2024, at the Gibsons & Area Community Centre (GACC). At the camp, four teams of up to 68 players will each play five games in a round-robin tournament format. Fans can attend for free.

 

Rick Hopper had a plan for how the team would recruit players before the TSUNAMI was approved by the PJHL. “We come from a different generation of how teams recruited players” said Director of Player Personnel Jeff Nottingham. “We did it the old-fashioned way. We went out to the arenas. We went up and down Vancouver Island for the academy teams and zone programs, but also for all the junior A teams over there,” he added. The same plan was followed on the Lower Mainland. “We’ve seen every academy team from British Columbia, Alberta, and some outside of that,” he explained.

 

After considerable time spent watching players, the next step was to create a list of potential prospects. “For every player at camp, we probably had four on the list. We’re going to have 60 kids at camp, and we probably had another 240 we had information on to add to our list,” he said. “I think we’ve done a good job. Our camp is almost full. We’ve got a few defensemen and forward spots left. The goalie position is filled already. It’s coming along,” he added.

 

The opportunity for a player to develop their game and move on to the next level is a selling point the team uses to recruit players. Most teams in the league have three practices a week, and some might have four, but that will be different on the Sunshine Coast. “We will be the only team in the league that will have five practice sessions a week. 1.5-hour sessions. We don’t want to get a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old and have them graduate as a 20-year-old. We want to move those kids forward. That is our goal,” he exclaimed.

 

A development centre will also be a massive hit. “We’re going to have our development centre up and running for their physical well-being, therapy, and education. We’re a block away from the high school for the kids that need to finish schooling,” said Nottingham.

 

The crowd inside of the GACC is second to none. “The first time I experienced it was for a minor hockey game. I was called in to help coach a playoff game and couldn’t believe the number of people there. There were 350 people there just to see a minor hockey game,” chuckled Nottingham.

 

The Coast also had the two-showcase series a year ago. We sold 500 plus tickets for the PJHL SHOWCASE SERIES in 2023, and 900 when we hosted the Vancouver Canucks Alumni vs the Minor Hockey Alumni this December 1st, where we unveiled our brand…the COASTAL TSUNAMI! “It’s loud. They are passionate. They know the game. They know what’s going on. We’re not going to be able to fool anybody. They’re going to expect us to be a competitive team that will not only entertain but win some games for the Sunshine Coast,” he insisted. The Prospects Camp will be the first-time future players will be in town.

 

There will be an introductory parents/players meeting, a parents/player’s social BBQ on Saturday evening, player fitness testing, personal player evaluations, and exit interviews for selected players. “We’re going to have outside coaches coming in. There’s going to be about seven individuals filling out reports on these kids so we can get the best 15-20 kids from Prospects Camp and put them into our main camp,” explained Nottingham.

 

Home-based talent is vital, says Nottingham, “we have a lot of kids coming from the Sunshine Coast to our camp. Half of the U15 and U18 teams are probably coming to our camp. Plus, the kids who are playing in academies and zones. If there is a Sunshine Coast player who can play junior hockey, we’ll be looking at him” he added. The organization wants to ensure that home-grown players are part of their roster each season.

 

He stated that, “the team will start getting built during camp in early May with rookie player commitments and come June 1st we can start officially signing players. We’ve already been negotiating for the rights to some veteran junior players who will be the foundation of our first-year inaugural group.”

 

For any questions regarding the COASTAL TSUNAMI please contact the Director of Marketing, Media, Sales, Giancarlo Nadeau. Giancarlo@coastalhockey.ca or call 604-239-6936.