It's been a pretty swift and good training camp so far for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
I've had a chance to be at Adams Ice Centre for a few of the practices and scrimmages and there's no question there are some talented and skilled young men out there trying to make this hockey team.
The veterans have certainly come back ready to compete as well and it appears a number of the players took the off-season very seriously. I've had a chance to speak to quite a few players, new and older ones about this camp and all are extremely excited to see what this team has to offer. As for the newcomers, I think there's been a few standouts so far. Jay Merkely, the Hurricanes top pick in 2010 certainly seems comfortable out there and has shown some impressive flashes. McKoy Erkamps is a big defensive presence, who could easily make this team and help bolster the "D". Joel Topping looks pretty good too as does Jamal Watson and Craig Leverton. All five of those players are coming in trying to make the cut as 16 year olds.
I also thought Texan Chris Stovall and Saskatoon's Kolton Olynek (selected in the second round of the 2011 draft) showed some serious skating ability. Both were lightning fast in the Thursday night practice. A lot of people were curious to see the two imports the Canes drafted back in June. Juraj Bezuch of Slovakia is a very good skater and has a pretty nice shot as well. Albin Blumqvist, the Hurricanes first selection in the 2011 import draft is a big body on the backend. Both players seemed to fit in well during their first scrimmages in Lethbridge. Just a few early thoughts. I spoke with Associate Coach Matt Kabayama Thursday afternoon as well.
"This is a competitive camp, probably more-so than we've ever had. I mean, not only for positions this year, but you look in the future and there are some very good young players who are coming up the pipeline, so this only makes everybody better. When you get pushed, you've got to get better. I like what I've seen so far, but we're not going to get too excited yet. We'll wait and see when we get playing some games."
Austin Fyten to some time to chat about camp so far as well. He's entering his last season in the WHL.
"It's been a couple of long off-seasons and getting back here is one of the best times of the year. This year we're going to make a run for it. I like what I've seen so far. I have high expectations for this team this season and it's going to come from Braes, Sutter, and myself to lead the way along with a couple of others guys and with a few of the younger players making the line-up, I'm excited to see what we can do. We've had a lot of high draft picks over the last few years and we're finally seeing it come along. There are some really skilled young guys out there and it's good to see these guys coming into camp ready to go."
The following is Ryan Ohashi's day two wrap of training camp:
2011 Hurricanes Training Camp continued on Thursday as Team A and B – made up of all the 95 & 96 born players played the first scrimmages of the 2011-12 Hurricanes season from Adams Ice Centre in Lethbridge.
In the first scrimmage of the day Team White jumped out to an early 3-0 lead off of goals from Craig Leverton, Jamal Watson and Colby Chartier. Leverton and Watson – two of the Canes 2010 WHL Bantam draft picks under serious consideration for this year’s team would finish the game with a goal and an assist each. But Team Red would come storming back with five unanswered goals (Robinson, Scheidl, Poirier, Laurencelle and Nemeth) to take a 5-3 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the second 30 minute half. White would answer back off the stick of the Canes only 2011 U.S. Prospect - Texan Chris Stovall to make it a 5-4 game but that was a close as they would come as the Reds would tally two more goals and an empty netter to sink Team White. Trevor Poirer tallied the empty netter to give him a pair while Reid Nemeth (2G) and Chris Thorimbert (1G, 2A) also had multi point games in the 8-4 win. Of note – local product and Hurricanes 2011 Draft pick Jonny Hogue played a solid 30 minutes making 14 saves on 15 shots for Team Red in the second half of the game.
1. White Goal (1-0) Leverton (J.Watson), 0:40
2. White Goal (2-0) J.Watson (Leverton, Duke), 4:31
3. White Goal (3-0) Chartier (Broderson, Erkamps), 7:24
4. Red Goal (3-1) Robinson (unassisted), 20:54
5. Red Goal (3-2) Scheidl (Sosa, Thorimbert), 23:30
6. Red Goal (3-3) Poirier (Laurencelle), 24:49
7. Red Goal (4-3) Laurencelle (unassisted), 1:18
8. Red Goal (5-3) Nemeth (Thorimbert, Tait), 16:18
9. White Goal (5-4) Stovall (Olynek), 18:42
10. Red Goal (6-4) Nemeth (Sosa), 21:09
11. Red Goal (7-4) Thorimbert (Amson, Merkley), 25:14
12. Red Goal - EN (8-4) Poirier (Tait), 28:36
After a midday practice for the veterans the day completed with the second game of the day for the Team White and Red. White jumped out to the early lead once again after some back and forth action as Jamal Watson drove the net and tucked home his second goal in as many games unassisted to take a 1-0 lead. Not to be outdone, the Canes highest WHL Bantam drafted forward of all time Jay Merkley made his presence known with a nice tally to tie things 1-1. Fellow Top 5 pick Reid Duke bounced back from taking a big hit early on in the game to notch his first of camp to once again push team White into the lead just past the 23 minute mark before the Reds tied it up once again this time off the stick of Manitoba invite Mac Hardy who finished with a two point night. Team White would then score late in the frame to take 3-2 lead going into the break thanks to Calgary’s Allan Macpherson assisting on the goal was Stovall again who notched another solid game – this time with a pair of assists. Both teams came out flying in the second period but a pair of solid goaltending performances from list player Christopher Tai (15 saves on 16 shots) for Team Red and draft pick Ryan Ferguson (15 saves on 16 shots) kept the scores tight. In the end an equalizer from Merkley for his second goal of the game was not enough as newly drafted Bryton Sayers wired home a game winner to give Team White a split in the series. Sayers and Hardy both had a goal and an assist while Merkley led the way with a pair of goals.
1. White Goal (1-0) J.Watson (unassisted) 7:58
2. Red Goal (1-1) Merkley (Amson, Robinson)
3. White Goal (2-1) Duke (Stovall, Sayers) 23:21
4. Red Goal (2-2) Hardy (Scheidl, Poirier)
5. White Goal (3-2) Macpherson (Stovall) 27:55
6. Red Goal (3-3) Merkley (Wong, Hardy)
7. White Goal (4-3) Sayers (J.Watson, Melzer)
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