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First-time Wilderness camp was a success

Cloquet native Kyle Klatt takes the puck down the ice towards the net during a scrimmage at the first-ever Wilderness camp held in Cloquet. The record-setting 105 players arrived Sunday and left after camp ended Wednesday. Klatt played for the Breezy Point North Stars last season. Jamie Lund/ 1 / 2
New Wilderness head coach Tim Madsen stands on the bench during a scrimmage at the tryout camp held in Cloquet earlier in the week. Jamie Lund/ 2 / 2

It may feel too hot to think about hockey right now, but another Minnesota Wilderness season is coming up quickly. More than 100 wannabe Wilderness players and their families flooded town last weekend for the first-ever Wilderness camp held in Cloquet.

A handful of last year’s players and a large new group of hopeful young men laced up their skates, grabbed their sticks and donned a practice jersey to show the new coach what they can do on the ice.

A record-setting 105 athletes showed up at the Northwoods Credit Union Arena hoping to impress the coach and be one of the final 25 or so chosen for the roster of the 2016-2017 Wilderness team. Players came from as far away as Arizona, Florida and New York, and others came around the world from countries like The Republic of Belarus, Slovakia, Switzerland and Germany.

New head coach Tim Madsen said he was happy with the ability of the players, saying they had good depth, speed and skill.

He admitted it had been difficult narrowing down to 44 players for the all-star games played Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. He hastily added that it was a good problem to have.

He was also happy with the five veteran Wilderness players from last year’s team.

“Tristan Rostagno plays good defense and has a 100-mile per hour slapshot,” Madsen said.

All of the veteran players made the all star team as well as about 10 area players, including a few from Cloquet.

The coach said there would be a team meeting to let the players know which players made the coveted Wilderness roster.

Where did the 105 players stay during the four-day camp? About 15 live in Cloquet, Duluth and Hermantown. The rest filled local hotels with the overflow staying in Duluth, giving a boost to the local economy.

The camp was open to the public and several fans took advantage to stay cool while watching the scrimmages.

“The anticipation (of Wilderness fans) is at an all-time high,” Madsen said.

The players will come to Cloquet Aug. 27.

More billet families are needed to house the players. If anyone is interested in opening their homes, the application can be found on the Minnesota Wilderness website