Augusta RiverHawks coach Brad Ralph has spent much of the summer on the road searching for talent to fill his minor league hockey roster. This weekend the talent will come to him.
The RiverHawks will hold a free agent evaluation camp at the Augusta Ice Sports Center. The two-day event will feature morning and afternoon sessions on Saturday and Sunday with full-contact scrimmages open to the public from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.
Ralph said any skaters can register for the camp, but the hope is to find local talent.
"If we could get someone who lives close by, that would be great, but we understand that hockey players in the South are few and far between," he said.
Patrick Rondeau will be among the locals competing for a spot on the team. The 18-year-old Augusta resident said his father got him into the sport and he's been playing on travel teams from Columbia ever since because of the lack of ice hockey options in Augusta.
"I'm just going to go out there and give it my best," he said. "I've had to travel to Columbia to play. I'd love to be able to play hockey in Augusta."
The local hopefuls will also compete against several out-of-town prospects. Assistant general manager Ken Vezina said several skaters will come in from either the northern states or Canada.
The team hopes to see 42 players try out. All are guaranteed to be evaluated by Ralph and general manager Gilles Richard, and at least two players will be invited to the team's training camp in October.
Ralph has signed only a handful of players so far, but the Southern Professional Hockey League is the last pro league to begin regular season play. The RiverHawks will start their inaugural season Oct. 22 at home against Fayetteville.