I thought I would use this picture of Sergei Shirokov, who might be the first call up to the Canucks from the Manitoba Moose, out of this group of prospects.
Well with school starting and a regular work day for most, the stands at Father Bauer Arena at UBC were only about 20 percent full. One section full of elementary kids must have got the day off, either that or it’s a new class assignment, as the teacher brought the students to watch the Nucks Prospects.
It was 11:10, when the players led by the coaches hit the ice to resume their workout, with Manitoba Moose’s Scott Arniel, which I failed to mention yesterday as having been there, taking charge of the drills.
I parked myself on the other side of the ice this time, where the players enter and exit to the dressing room, in case I saw an opening to speak with any of the players or coaches. I was hoping there would be an intra-squad scrimmage today but was told “no” when I questioned one of the trainers, so on to drills we go.
As I settled in, the coldness of the arena brought back memories of the many days and nights, either sitting in the stands or behind the bench coaching, and was glad that I remembered to dress accordingly, as some of the fans were shivering in their short pants and flimsy jackets. It might be the tail end of summer outside, but it’s definitely hockey weather inside
There were a few new drills today, such as the dump and chase, where the puck is shot into the corner, the D-man goes back to retrieve while been hounded by a checker and tries to move the puck out to a forward. The other was a five on three, in the half ice, which was the closest to a game situation we would see.
The forward lines that were together yesterday were kept intact today and although they may not be household names to most, this was some of them, which I suspect will be kept together for the two prospect games in Edmonton.
Prab Rai, centering Sergei Shirokov and Steven Anthony (St. John—QMJHL). Dusty Collins (Manitoba), between Eric Walsky (Manitoba) and Dan Gendur. Gendur, who played the bulk of his season with the Canucks, ECHL Victoria Salmon Kings, and was also with the Moose at the start of the season. I’ll tell you more about him later. There were a number of defensive parings but the tandem of Yann Sauve and Evan Oberg caught my eye.
The Rai line looked good again today and Shirokov, who I was waiting to show me something, delayed his debut until later. Although hockey and drills are a universal language, it must be difficult for Shirokov to figure out what the coaches are explaining to the players, when your English is pretty limited.
At times I thought he was going on instinct during the drills, but he showed he has great wheels, nice passing touch and has that Russia creativeness with and without the puck, as he scored a goal and was in on another during the three on two’s.
Mario Bliznak (Manitoba) centered Pierre-Cedric Labrie (Manitoba), and Matthew Ford (Lake Erie-AHL). Labrie, at 6’2", 212, is a load to handle when he goes to the net, has soft hands and is surprisingly fast for a big man.
I thought Cody Hodgson was moving better today, as his strides had more zip to them and his movement looser.
Dan Gendur was on the receiving end of a Sauve hit, as the body contact picked up on day two during the drills. Sauve’s uses his size with meaning and was much more noticeable today, had a number of take outs along the boards and in the corners. D-men, Taylor Ellington (Manitoba), and Mitch McColm (Tri-City-WHL) also got into the act as the boy’s raised the intensity level.
That Gendur is not big at 5’11”, 190, but he is a feisty piece of work and can motor. You can see that he is trying to get the coaches attention, and along with that, had a few of the D-men riled up.
As the players exited to their dressing room for the 15 minute break, while the Zamboni man did his thing, Cody Hodgson was swarmed by the fans. Once again he patiently signed autographs, and had his picture taken with the kids of all ages for the next 10 minutes, as he was the only player the fans were interested in. As I moved in a little closer to listen to the inter-action, it was very evident how congenial and accessible this guy is.
Just before he went back in I asked him if he feels he would be ready to go at the main camp and he said “he did.” I mentioned that I thought his back looked a little looser today and he concurred. He said “that the doctors here are really tremendous.” With that he was off to get his five minutes of rest. Not even at the main camp and already the feature attraction, I’m liking this young man already.
At 12:50 the camp finished, as they now pack up to head to Edmonton. For the majority of the Major Jr. players that are still eligible, they will go back to their teams, which will include Yann Sauve, with the exception of Hodgson. The Moose players will be reporting to Manitoba, to work on that next step and the few tryouts who did not make it, will be pondering their future in hockey.
GM Mike Gillis and the Canucks management are slowly assembling the foundation, which makes the present and future bright, for the Nucks faithful.
I will attempt to report from the main camp next week, starting Sunday the 13th.