— Since the Sept. 22 release of the final version of their jersey and logo, which features an axe wielding lumberjack and a hockey puck being sawed in half, the Lapeer Loggers of the All American Hockey League have moved on to begin preparations for their first-ever training camp, which starts tomorrow from 9:30-11 a.m., followed by sessions at 3-4:30 p.m. and 7-8:30 p.m. The Polar Palace, 3301 Davison Rd., will also hosts days two and three of this event, with the action kicking off Saturday from 9:30-11 a.m. and 3-4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9-10:30 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m.
“This event is open to the public and merchandise will be on sale,” said Loggers General Manager Tyler Harrison. “The age of these players is between 18 and 40 years old and 30- 40 players are expected to attend.”
So far the ride for Lapeer has been a fast and furious one that began in August when the team was granted membership in the AAHL followed Sept. 14 by a development agreement with the South Muskoka Shield of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League. Once camp has broken the pace of the Loggers season won’t relent any time soon, either, as the Battle Creek Revolution comes to town Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. for an exhibition contest and the regular season commences Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at home against the Troy Bruins.
“The AAHL does have a free agent draft that was held in late August,” Harrison said. “The players are from out of the area. They live in a house in Lapeer rented for them by the team.”
According to the league website, the talent Lapeer snatched up in the 2010 players draft includes forward Barry Sluman of Barrie, Ontario, Can., Saginaw goaltender Dave DeSander, forward Brandon Heyward of Maple Grove, MInn, Dearborn forward Steven Filak and forward Oliver Hamel of Calgary, Alberta, Can. With six teams total in the AAHL, some of the other in-state talent claimed out of free agency by the league include Battle Creek defenseman Collin Schook by the Revolution, the Madison Ice Muskies took Milan forward Richard Martin and the Queen City Storm pocketed Saginaw forward Brandon Hewitt.
“Players will have scrimmages during the camp,” said Harrison. “Each player in camp will have a one-on-one meeting with the coach (Lorne Knauft) and General Manager on Sunday, where cuts will be made.”
Whoever makes the grade for Lapeer is going to have to enjoy and maintain a deep-seeded love for the game along with true physical ability, though, because while this opportunity can be a great stepping stone, by itself this chance is only a single rung on the ladder to stardom.
“The AAHL has a $3,000 per week salary cap and each team is allowed 20 players,” Harrison said.
With a name selected from more than 300 public suggestions and the Sept. 13 announcement that Lorne Knauft would serve as the Loggers head coach for 2010-11, the team looks to be in good hands as it set about the task of providing the area with a hardnosed brand of hockey guided by one of the top defenseman in Flint Generals history. Knauft played eight seasons in the United Hockey League for the Generals from 1993-2008, posting 369 points on 115 goals and 254 assists with 1,285 penalty minutes over the course of an 11 year professional career. Details: 810-245-7778, www.polarpalce.com or fax 810-667- 3639
Lapeer also has several employment opportunities available according to the teams website, including an official scorer, two goal judges, time clock operator, P.A. announcer, penalty box attendants and game day interns. Details: www.lapeerloggers.com,