The Prince George Spruce Kings returning veterans and newly recruited players are now in town and are preparing for the start of training camp this Thursday. Last night the group had a successful first pre-camp skate which included some local faces alongside them.
Joining the team in the first skate was goalie Michael Garteig, defenseman Brandon Manning, and forwards Jake LeBrun and Chase Witala all of whom grew up in Prince George.
Michael Garteig is coming off an ECAC championship in his fourth season with NCAA Division 1 Quinnipiac Bobcats. The netminder played three full seasons in the BCHL suiting up for the Powell River Kings, and finishing with the Penticton Vees where he won the Doyle Cup and was named the BCHL’s top goalie. Following the end of this past season, Garteig signed a one year entry level contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
Brandon Manning has already been out on the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena ice a few times this summer, as he has been helping out with the team’s annual hockey school. The Philadelphia Flyers defenseman is coming off his first full season spent with the big club, and scored his first NHL goal. During this offseason he signed a two year one way contract with the Flyers. During the 2007-2008 season, Manning played in 58 games with the Spruce Kings tallying 26 points.
Jake LeBrun is the most recent Spruce King, having played for the club in the 2015-2016 season. Entering his fourth season with the team, LeBrun was named team captain. The power forward was injured during a regular season game in November, and was traded to the West Kelowna Warriors at the trade deadline. LeBrun would go on to be a huge contributor in the road to West Kelowna’s RBC Cup championship, most notably scoring the OT winner against the Chilliwack Chiefs in game four of the Fred Page cup. In 162 regular season games with the Spruce Kings, LeBrun had 105 points to go along with nine points in 21 playoff appearances. Recently LeBrun committed to play CIS hockey next season for the UBC Thunderbirds.
Chase Witala is a local minor hockey product who is coming off a very successful junior hockey career in the Western Hockey League. At the end of last season he signed an American Hockey League contract with The Toronto Marlies, the top minor league affiliate of The Toronto Maple Leafs, and finished the season with the Marlies. He will be attending training camp with the Maple Leafs in mid September and looks to have a very promising pro career ahead of him.
It’s great for the current Spruce Kings players to skate with these four local hockey products and to learn from them what it takes to get to the next level.
The pre-camp skates continue this week on Tuesday and Wednesday evening at 7:00 at The Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, leading up to the start of the team’s training camp on Thursday afternoon.