The 7th day of on-ice practice and the 8th day overall. Only 2 more days until the camp comes to an end, only 2 more days left for the players to make an impression (even though management has said that this is not an evaluation camp).
9AM-10AM: Today the 4 goalies had an entire rink to themselves, while the remaining 21 forwards and D were on another rink. I decide to attend the skaters rink. The practice today was very up-tempo, and the drills were timed in synch with music (pump-up songs from the past few decades) playing in the background. Dagenais was back at practice again, but their was no sign of Ribeiro (he had been rumoured to be going to practice today), Dagenais arrived on the ice 10 minutes late and was then told by the coach to come back in another 10 minutes (prospect only drills?) I got a good chuckle out of this.
One of the drills performed was a skate-and-dive drill where the players had to skate a short distance, then dive onto the ice, get up and skate a little more, the purpose of the drill was to teach players how to get up quickly when down, thankfully it was not teaching them how to draw penalties. Next up the players did some one on ones where the player with the puck tried to get around the defending player, Kostitsyn went up against Chipchura. Kostitsyn took Kyle to school a few times with brilliant stick-handling, Andrei made it look easy. Kyle eventually caught up to Kostitsyn’s pace and was not beaten again. Locke is another player who impressed me in the stick-handling drills, Corey isnt as good a stick-handler as Kostitsyn but Corey is still very skilled in the department. The group finished off the hour practice by skating laps to the rhythm of the music and doing push-ups after each lap.
10:30AM-12PM: The goalies and skaters reunite. Andre Savard has the players do odd man rush drills. On one of these drills Chipchura and Kostitsyn are on a 2 on 1 , Kostitsyn receives the puck and goes in all alone on Heino-Lindberg, Andrei dekes the jock off of Heino-Lindberg and scores a backhanded goal, one of the nicest goals I’ve seen all camp, the audience oohs and ahhs while Kostitsyn has a look on his face like he’s scored that goal hundreds of times before. Shortly after the goal Kostitsyn leaves the ice, I’m not sure why he left the ice, it could of been an injury or it could be the coaches having some sympathy for the goalies, Kostitsyn did not return.
Next the dark blue jerseys came out, the players divided and filled the two benches for some 4 on 4 hockey. The “game” did not have any faceoffs, rules, or penalties, and the only time a whistle was blown was when the coach wanted the players to change lines. Chipchura was one of the top players during the scrimmage, he played physical and battled for the puck in the corners, on the offensive side he had a nice rush which resulted in a Danny Stewart tap-in goal. J-P Cote is another player who I liked during the 4 on 4’s, he was able to show off his physical play. The puck always seemed to find its way to Cote during the drill, then again as a defender having the puck follow you around is not always a good thing. Another highlight of the practice was when Corey Locke scored a Kostitsyn-like breakaway goal on the helpless goalie (I forget who).
After the practice ended Chipchura, Urquhart, Larrivee, Korpikari and Lacasse stayed on the ice after everyone else left, the 4 skaters practised shots/rebounds on Lacasse. Lacasse looked much better today then he did at the start of the camp, working with Melanson has helped his game, now the test will be how he performs as a starter in the QMJHL for a full season.
The players who stood out today for me were the players who are expected the stand out, the top prospects, guys like Kyle Chipchura and the offensive wizards Andrei Kostitsyn and Corey Locke. On the defensive side I liked what I saw from Cote, Archer, O’Byrne and Korpikari. For the goalies the gap is getting smaller between Danis and the other 3, but Danis is still in a class of his own.
Lapierre by himself
Andre Savard talking with a few players
Heino-Lindberg in nets
Ferland ready to go