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After stellar ’17-18 season, Knights set for main camp later this summer

 

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When it comes to junior hockey, there are a lot of choices.

The Phoenix Knights of the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) have many things to offer.

From year-round hiking and outdoor activities to all major professional sports teams in the area, Phoenix/Gilbert is an excellent destination for players looking to enter junior hockey or further their careers. Excellent colleges and Arizona State’s NCAA Division I hockey program in town only adds to the appeal.

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“The WSHL is a very underrated league and kids need to come in with the mentality of wanting to get better,” said Knights coach-GM Colten St. Clair, recently named the WSHL Coach of the Year. “It takes a lot of commitment and determination. That mentality has to be consistent all year. It is a long season and you play against very mature players, so you have to be ready every single night with that mindset.”

This year’s Knights main tryout camp is set for Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at AZ Ice Gilbert.

For players that are interested in attending the main camp, St. Clair has some advice.

“Players should expect to work very hard and have an ‘in-season’ mentality,” said St. Clair. “I plan on running the camp just like I would the regular season so kids should know what to expect if they sign. We are a fast-paced team that works together and the players attending the camp are going to be expected to come into camp already in shape.”

St. Clair also noted that every player will need to earn their spot.

“We will no longer be an underdog, so it is important to make that clear early on,” noted St. Clair.

If you are interested in attending the main camp or have any questions regarding the Knights, visit www.phoenixknightshockey.com.

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Phoenix Knights season preview

Coming off of their best season since 2014, the Knights are on a mission.

Led by St. Clair, the Knights are looking to improve upon the successes of this past season. In his first season as head coach, St. Clair and the Knights earned 16 more wins than the previous season and pushed to the second round of the Thorne Cup playoffs.

Entering the 2018-19 season, St. Clair is not satisfied with just getting into the postseason.

“We need to want more – just making it into playoffs this year will not be good enough,” said St. Clair. “That was our goal last year and we achieved it. Now we need to achieve the other goals that I will set at the beginning of the season.”

The coaching staff has been working with some of the returning players that will be in leadership roles, reinforcing the team’s goals this season. St. Clair noted that their job as leaders is to make sure they are communicating that to the team throughout the offseason.

The focus this season will be to improve on team determination and systems. Returning players are expected to be even better, leading the new players.

“Being determined and confident as a team is a huge asset to winning games,” said St. Clair. “It cannot take 15 games into the season for us to find our game. It has to be right away.”

Carrying this determination through the offseason and into camp, St. Clair is making sure that the Knights don’t feel too satisfied and accomplished after last season.

“I am very proud of this group and think it was a good season, but again, I will talk about our mindset and that the players have to be even hungrier to make a difference this season,” St. Clair said. “That goes for myself along with the rest of my coaching staff as well. It is our job as a group to make sure it is known right away.”

St. Clair said he would also like to thank all the fans, the Arizona Hockey Union, families and billet families for the constant support that does not go unnoticed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was written before St. Clair stepped down to take a coaching role last  month with the NCAA Division I program at the University of Maine.

— Bryan O’Sullivan

(June 11, 2018)