Coach Todd Gill is down to a workable roster following the end of training camp scrimmages as the Kingston Frontenacs prepare for the first of three exhibition hockey games Friday night against the Belleville Bulls.
Game time at the K-Rock Centre is 7 p.m., a half-hour earlier than other years.
General manager Doug Gilmour still has a 24-player roster going into the exhibition play but one position, the backup goaltender, has been determined.
Colin Furlong, a free-agent invitee to camp, emerged as the man who will play behind starting goalie Mike Morrison.
Furlong, who had been slated to play for the Trenton Sting of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, won his roster spot over Blake Richard and Craig Wood, both former backup goaltenders in Kingston. Paola Battista, another free agent, also got a look, as did draft pick Mark Sinclair.
The team’s highest goaltending draft pick, third-rounder Joel Howard, never made it to camp, due to an injury. He will play in Nepean this season.
Furlong, who uses his right hand to snag pucks, played Junior B last season for the Guelph Hurricanes. The 19-year-old is from Cambridge.
Morrison, one of the team’s overage players, was picked up as a free agent. He played 40 games for the Peterborough Petes last season and 47 games over two seasons before that for the Kitchener Rangers.
At practices this week, Gill still has eight defencemen and 14 forwards on the ice plus the two goaltenders.
The four high draft picks —defencemen Roland McKeown and Dylan Di Perna and forwards Sam Bennett and Spencer Watson — looked good in scrimmages. Bennett scored four goals for the Black team which won all three intrasquad games. Spencer Watson had two goals while McKeown, the team’s No. 1 pick in the April draft, perhaps fittingly scored the final goal of scrimmages.
Marc Beckstead, who played on the wing on a line with captain Cody Alcock and Darcy Greenaway, also had two goals.
Besides the main lines of Ryan Kujawinski, with Billy Jenkins and Trevor Morbeck, and the Alcock line, another line which looked good was Bennett, Nathan Cull and Finnish import Henri Ikonen.
On defence, neither returning veterans Kyler Nixon nor Mike Moffat dressed as defencemen. That allowed Gill to have a good look at the younger players. McKeown and Di Perna, after some early jitters were put away, were impressive 16-year-olds.
The player who opened eyes, however, was Mikko Vainonen, the defenceman Kingston selected with its first pick (sixth overall) in the June import draft. Vainonen was everything expected from a player who captained the Finnish national junior team last season and was drafted by the NHL’s Nashville Predators.
Notebook — Greater Kingston minor midget graduate Zach Emelifeonwu had a good camp, scoring twice in intrasquad play. Emelifeonwu was an 11th-round pick in April. Three Greater Kingston grads from 2011, Jay Mackie, Alex Tonge and Jacob Hetherington, were also at camp. … Another GK grad, Franco Vilardi, has been sent back by the Sudbury Wolves and will play for the Kingston Voyageurs. Vilardi was a third-round pick in April. … Warren Steele will be wearing a new number this season. He has opted for No.77 after using No. 7 last season. Michael Moffat has gone to No. 4, the number worn by Alex Gudbranson last year. Gudbranson was traded in the off-season to Sault Ste. Marie. … Friday night is Kingston’s only pre-season game on home ice. The Frontenacs play in Belleville on Saturday and then face the Ottawa 67’s on Sept. 16 in Brockville. Kingston’s Ontario Hockey League opener is Sept. 21, at home against the Barrie Colts.