The Spokane Chiefs have opened their Annual Fall Training Camp in the Spokane Arena with 17 veterans from last year's club participating in on-ice sessions. Two veterans, 19-year-old goaltender Mac Engel and 19-year-old forward Marek Kalus, are being held out of scrimmages as they heal minor injuries.
Engel is out with a lower body injury and Kalus has an upper body injury.
Sixty-three players are split amongst three teams and will each play two scrimmages a day for the next three days. Included in that number are two first time participants; the Chiefs first round bantam selection in 2012, defenseman Evan Fiala and 17-year-old forward Mikulas Rimmel. Rimmel, a native of the Czech Republic, was the Chiefs only selection in this summer's CHL Import Draft and will team with Kalus as the Chiefs' two import players this season.
The three days of scrimmages precede the Red-White scrimmage on Sunday at 1:00 in the Spokane Arena. All ice sessions through the weekend are free and open to the public.
In other news, the Spokane Chiefs have announced that former captain and assistant coach Kevin Sawyer will join the organization in an interim basis as a coaching assistant while head coach Don Nachbaur attends to his duties this winter with Hockey Canada. Nachbaur will serve as an assistant coach for Canada's World Junior Hockey Championships which will take place in Ufa, Russia.
Jon Klemm, who is entering his fourth season as the Chiefs' assistant coach, will be the head coach while Nachbaur is away, beginning December 8th. Nachbaur will not return until early January, missing a potential of up to 11 games.
"With Jon and Kevin, I couldn't imagine leaving the team in better hands," Nachbaur said.
"The goal is to be as seamless as possible," Sawyer said. "I'll be a support system for Jon Klemm and the players and maintain what is going on now."
Sawyer has been a guest instructor at Chiefs camp for numerous years, including this week. He will take part in practices on a frequent basis in the months leading up to December.
" I can remember saying to Tim Speltz after Don's first training camp that the luckiest guy in town was Jon Klemm because he gets to work under a guy who is so detail oriented," Sawyer said. "You can just tell he looks at the smaller things in the game and for me that is what you want in a coach and you want to learn under something like that. Now, I get a chance to do that on an interim basis and I'm looking forward to it."
Sawyer was a three year member of the Chiefs, captaining the 1993-94 team as a 20-year-old. After a eight-year professional career, Sawyer returned to the organization in 2004 and served as an assistant coach for two seasons. In recent years he has served as a color commentator for Spokane Chiefs broadcasts on SWX and WHL broadcasts on Root Sports.
"It helps to already know a few of the players through broadcasts, and yet there are still guys I'm getting to know. I had a chance to be around for the veterans fitness testing and get to know them a little bit better. It's nice to be face-to-face. Anytime you get a chance to know personalities and improve your knowledge of the person you're trying to lead it just helps you know what makes them tick."