Each year, the Brampton Beast Free Agent Camp sees the best hockey talent from across Ontario and across the country descend upon the Powerade Centre for an intense weekend of highly-competitive hockey.
This year more than ever before, our local boys had their work cut out for them as a large group of international players made the trek from all corners of the world to try and steal away a possible roster spot.
Nineteen-year-old goaltender Dominic Jolly and 20-year-old forward Kristers Bormanis are just two of the several players who made the long trek overseas from Europe to take part in the Beast’s open tryout and both have had nothing but good things to share about their experience at Free Agent Camp.
“It’s been good,” said Bormanis, a native of Latvia.
“Lots of skilled teams with good speed. I had some good stats this weekend with seven goals and two assists. I liked it a lot.
Jolly hails from England and admits that getting a chance to ply his craft and get noticed by a North American professional hockey club like the Beast has been a dream come true.
“To be honest, it has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,” Jolly said with a smile.
“Being from England and growing up there, you never think you’re going to get a chance to do this. To skate with players of this calibre and get a chance to compete and make my way out of the goalie session and into the main Free Agent Camp, there are no words to describe the experience.”
To say that these two aspiring Beasts have come a long way to attempt to realize their dreams is an understatement, but it was all worthwhile for the chance to play in the ECHL.
“I flew to Amsterdam from Riga, Latvia, so that’s three hours,” chuckled Bormanis. “Then I sat there for three hours and flew from Amsterdam to Toronto.”
“I left Manchester, England at 6AM on a direct flight to Toronto,” Jolly echoed.
“Then a bus from Toronto to Brampton. Stayed in a couple of cheap hotels and had some of the worst nights of sleep I’ve ever had but I’ve been here playing my heart out with the guys and giving it everything I’ve got.”
Both players enjoyed success during their short camp experience. Bormanis lit the lamp seven times and added two helpers during his four games over the weekend, while Jolly recorded two shutout periods and allowed only four goals in his four scrimmage appearances.
Both players agree, it was worth making the long, expensive trip.
“I love North American hockey,” Bormanis said.
“The Brampton Beast are one of my favourite teams in the ECHL, so that’s my goal, to make the team. I could have done better in the 200-foot game. My teammates helped me a lot. I love it here.”
“I want to show the kids back home that just because you’re from a country where hockey is not the main sport, that doesn’t mean you can’t come and compete at that level,” Jolly said.
“That’s been my goal from day one, just to come and get this experience and show that English people can play hockey.”
Regardless of whether or not these two earn a spot in the club’s main training camp ahead of the 2017-18 ECHL season, they agree that the experience has been a positive one.
“Hockey is the only thing I do,” said Bormanis. “I love competing. I live for it. I love it.”
“It’s been one giant hockey party in my head, from every save I’ve made to every goal I’ve let in,” Jolly said.
“The boys have been awesome. I’ve made memories for life.”