The Tri-City Americans scouts scour Canada and the United states each year in search of players.
On Thursday, the scouts, Tri-City brass, parents and fans got a look at newest crop of talent as the Americans rookie camp opened at Toyota Center.
Barclay Parneta, the Americans’ prospect development coach and head scout, said the two morning sessions went well.
“I think a lot of the kids, especially the second-year kids, have spent a lot of time in the gym, and when they come here the results are there,” Parneta said. “It’s nice to see the dedication and development they put in over the summer.”
With four goalies, 12 defensemen and 20 forwards, the scouts have plenty of players to evaluate. With a mix of 15 and 16-year-olds, Parneta said it’s hard to compare the players to one another.
“We treat the kids on an individual basis,” Parneta said. “At this age, their bodies change at different rates and their attributes change. We watch for good habits and if they are making good decisions. We also want to see a continuous trend upward. We track them throughout the year with a development tracker. Every player will leave here a little bit better.”
There are six 2013 draft picks in camp, and all are old enough to compete for a roster spot. Those players get an extra eye trained on them.
“I’m happy with how they came to camp and the mindset they have,” Parneta said. “They are old enough to say and earn a spot, and they are focused in a sense.”
The Americans had a parents lunch and meeting Thursday, and with all the people milling about afterward, taking in the history of the team on the walls outside the dressing room, and touring the team’s dressing room, you could tell some were impressed and others looked a bit overwhelmed.
The same goes for a lot of the players, who are in a Western Hockey League camp for the first time.
“The young kids have stars in their eyes,” Parneta said. “Some of them don’t have programs to help them develop. The Canadian kids are aware of the WHL and how things work, but some of the U.S. kids have never heard of the WHL and what it’s all about.
“A lot of them are surprised by the caliber of play. USA Hockey has come a long way in a short amount of time. There are pockets that are starting to grow.”
The Americans invited just 36 to the rookie camp and 45 to their main camp, with a few attending both. In comparison, Everett, Portland and Seattle have about 80 players in camp, while Spokane has 60 in camp, including veterans.
“This was Bob’s (Tory, general manager) philosophy,” Parneta said of the smaller camps. “We target quality players who have the qualities and attributes to be a Tri-City American, versus going with volume and getting lost in the shuffle. I think that is why we have been so successful. It’s important to maintain the quality we have and add to it. It starts here.”
w Annie Fowler: 582-1574; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: tchicequeen