The Bombers started the team’s training camp with something familiar and something new - the annual maroon and white game and a three-team tournament, pitting future teammates against one another.
During the team’s annual maroon and white game, the new faces, rookies and prospects took centre stage - none of the team’s returning players dressed.
Team White got on the board first, with prospect Nathan Flodell - younger brother of Bomber returnee Matt - capitalizing on a turnover and beating Maroon goalie Max Hildebrand.
Maroon answered back, with defenceman Colin Jennings finding the twine through traffic and White netminder Hunter Lolacher.
The game was split into two 30-minute run-time halves. The offence ramped up in the second half, with Team White getting a lead on a Cole Duperreault score early on.
It just wouldn’t be a maroon and white game without a fight, and Justin Lies and Hassen Himour delivered early in the second, with Lies scoring the takedown. The fight was followed by a curious change - due to changes from COVID-19, the players had to pick up their own helmets, gloves and sticks, then lined up for the next faceoff without serving penalties.
Team Maroon tied the game back up on a hard shot by forward Nathan Gagne, who whipped one from the high slot past White goalie Jared Thompson. Maroon then took a 3-2 lead after a two-man breakout by Flin Flonners Lies and Jordan Pfoh. Pfoh burst into the zone, shot at Thompson and Lies pounced on a rebound, giving the club the lead.
It wouldn’t last long. Ashton Ferster snuck in on a breakaway and beat Maroon goalie Justin Dueck to tie the game, then Jakin Lawrence gave White the lead with an open high-slot shot. Himour would add in an empty-netter to seal a 5-3 White win.
The team’s camp was closed to the public to meet COVID-19 restrictions, but that didn’t stop the players from taking part in a fast-paced three-team evaluation tournament. Teams Red, Yellow and Blue faced off in a double round-robin setup on Sept. 18-19.
The first game up saw Yellow play Blue, with Yellow coming up with the W. Veteran Billy Klymchuk and local prospect Magnus Pearson each scored twice in a 4-3 win.
Team Blue then had a back-to-back, facing Team Red and losing 5-3. Red got two goals from 15-year-old Harper Lolacher, who scored on his older brother Hunter, one of Team Blue’s goalies. Rookie Duperreault added another Red goal, along with returnees Hayden Clayton and Matt Raymond.
Team Yellow ended Sept. 18 with a 5-0 shutout win, with goals coming from Klymchuk, Pearson, Wyatt Wurtz, Jaeden Mercier and Reid Robertson.
Picking back up the next day, Yellow won their third game of the weekend, beating Blue 3-2 on the strength of goals by Ryder Richmond, Drayden Kurbatoff and Noah Kuntz. Red then ended Blue’s weekend with a 3-2 Red win, coming on the strength of two goals from Nathan Gagne and one from Owen Slugoski.
With Yellow undefeated through three games and Red sitting at 2-1, the final game of the tournament would determine the first place finisher. The two clubs went to overtime, where Red won after defenceman Lucas Fry beat Dueck short side.