While many members of the 2012-13 Coquitlam Express roster will likely have crossed a good portion of the continent to compete for roles with the B.C. Hockey League club, at least two rookies will have trekked the width of Poirier Street to wear the red, white and black.
The Express' latest additions to the training camp roster are a pair of Coquitlam-bred teens hungry to show their talents.
Don't judge the pair of 17-year-olds on the proximity of their journey, as both Adam Rockwood and Daniel Urbani are considered catches based on their performances last year with the major midget Northeast Chiefs.
Rockwood, a puck-savvy centre who led the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League in scoring, and polished netminder Urbani will add considerable skill to the mix, Coquitlam coach Jon Calvano said.
"We know there are good local kids around here through the major midget programs, and it's important that we attract them to our team," said Calvano, who has spent a good portion of the past year raking the rinks of various hockey hotspots in both Canada and the U.S. in search of talent.
"They both go to school across the street and it makes too much sense for us to do what we can to get them in Express colours."
Rockwood's transition into a scoring star - with 16 goals and 70 assists over 40 games - was boosted by a growth spurt that saw him mature from a five-foot-two 15-year-old into a five-footnine 17-year-old.
"I'm up to five-foot-nine," remarked Rockwood. "That's about six inches over the last couple of years. I was always known as a small guy but now I'm about average height- I'm not a small anymore, I'm a medium."
At the beginning of last season, the Centennial student was aiming at using his newfound size to add to his near point-a-game pace. Instead, with the help of linemates Jamie Waddington and Jace Hennig, Rockwood more than doubled it.
"At the start of the year the coach didn't put us together but I knew Jace was coming off an injury, [and] I was like 'You've got to put us three together,'" said Rockwood. "I was like, 'You're going to win some games if you put us together.'"
Score and win is what the line and team did. The three combined for 214 points over the 40 game schedule - with Hennig only playing 25 games before joining the Express for the final 20 games of the BCHL season.
Urbani, meanwhile, was a big part of the Chiefs' netminding tandem that powered them to third overall with a 23-13-4 record. The five-foot-11 goalie posted a 9-2-2 record and a 2.62 goals against average - second in the major midget circuit - to catch the attention of junior A scouts.
Having a locally-honed puckstopper has created a potential logjam between the pipes for Calvano.
Both Cole Huggins and Khaleed Devji enter their final season of junior A eligibility in September, and Coquitlam finds itself mirroring the dilemma of Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis. With two polished and proven goalkeepers at his disposal, Calvano is considering dealing one to groom another for the BCHL.
Devji came in as the returning No. 1, and while he lost the top job early in the year with the arrival of Colorado-native Huggins, he still managed a 3.48 goals against average and a 16-13 record.
Huggins, a cast-off from Langley, stood on his head upon signing with the Express and had a 2.99 goals against average en route to a 21-6-2 record.
"[Khaleed] has been great for us over these past two years," noted Calvano. "We're open to finding him a good home. As for Huggins, we don't know if he's coming back or not- as an American he could get a scholarship next week.
"It's not going to be a decision we have to make until the end (of training camp), but it's a good luxury to have today. Both (Devji and Huggins) are valuable assets, we have two No. 1 goalies in this league who could bring us a missing piece, something we're looking for."
It would also create an opportunity for a local player to rise up the ranks.
Urbani is eager to push that envelope. "I've been to a few (junior A camps) but Coquitlam treated me well, they did everything they needed to do and seem really fond of me. I appreciate that," said Urbani, who also attends Centennial Secondary. "There are players up to 20 (years of age) out there, they want to get scholarships and impress the scouts out there. I need to work hard as well and all I need to do is adapt. It will take time but I'll try my best."
Rockwood and Urbani add to the local content that includes Hennig, a Port Moody native who at 17 already has a scholarship deal with Merrimack for 2014-15 lined up, Maple Ridge's Justin Georgeson and New Westminster's Mitch Fyffe.
How they fit in after the August training camp remains to be seen. But both are eager to go the distance in proving they belong.
"I just need to show why I'm on the team, make big saves, play big and just be exactly who I am. I need to be who I am and the person that they picked me to be," said Urbani.
"I've got to put points up. Most people don't think of me as a two-way centreman but I've got to be good at both ends of the rink," noted Rockwood.
"I've got to prove people wrong that I can play defensively too, but mostly I've got to put points up."
. The Express are still seeking billet families for its players for the upcoming season.
In return for providing a good living environment for a dedicated athlete, families get a monthly stipend towards food, season tickets, and an opportunity to make a difference in a young player's life - often someone who is living away from home for the first time.
For more info or to apply, email email@example.com, or call 604-936-4625.
The club is also still offering its spring deal prices on season tickets, from $129 for children (ages six to 12), $229 for seniors (60-plus), and $299 for adults. Tickets can be purchased by calling 604-936-4625.