KENT – The Seattle Thunderbirds kicked off what they hope will be a great season Tuesday with their first full day of training camp.
Tuesday was highlighted by six scrimmages featuring their prospects and rookies. The veteran players were at the ShoWare Center as well but their day was relegated to a grueling on-ice fitness test as well as an off-ice workout in the afternoon. New import player Gustav Olhaver was on the ice with the veterans and he stands out, or rather tall. At 6 feet 6, he is an imposing figure who is closer to 6 feet 10 when on skates. He got down the ice pretty quickly during his fitness test and it will be interesting to see how the big Swede handles himself in scrimmages later in the week.
There was one notable absence on Tuesday as Colorado native Baker Shore was not in attendance. He is a 16-year-old rookie with a lot of talent and a hope to crack the deep T-Birds’ lineup. He was unable to attend the early scrimmages due to a school conflict – Colorado schools have already begun – and is expected in Kent to take part of the main camp on Thursday.
Here are the notable observations from Tuesday’s sessions:
Mathew Wedman shows strong
With the depth that Seattle has on its roster this year, making the roster is tougher than it’s been in years past. The T-Birds have two, maybe three, forward spots open and about five talented players who could be candidates. Wedman is one of those players and the T-Birds’ 2014 second-round pick had a strong day.
He scored a goal on his first shift in one of the morning scrimmages and was a physical force all day. The highlight was a big open-ice hit on 2015 first round-pick Elijah Brown, who learned that he needs to keep his head up. Wedman looks bigger, stronger and faster than he did as a 15-year-old prospect last year and is off to a good start.
Luke Ormsby all over the ice
Like Wedman, Ormsby is also a candidate to sneak onto the roster this year and the Monroe, Wash. native was a noticeable presence all day long. He scored one of the lone goals in the morning sessions and got into the only scuffle on the day. He was an agitator, played an effective physical game and contributed on offense.
His last scrimmage ended with him crashing the net, knocking it off the moorings and drawing attention from the entire Team Grey, which was vocal in its displeasure.
MacKenzie Wight a presence
Yet another 16-year-old hopeful, Wight was strong with the body on Tuesday and made a nice play in the afternoon. He stole the puck on the forecheck and quickly got it to a teammate who scored. If he has visions of making the team, on the fourth line, he showed that he can be a high-energy, physical player.
Jarret Tyszka looks ready
Seattle’s top pick from 2014 was on the ice Tuesday and looked like he is ready to contribute to the team this year. The defenseman looked bigger and was often the best player on the ice. He made some nice passes to lead rushes and was not afraid to bang in the corners. He ended the morning session by converting a nice shootout attempt when he waited out the goaltender before firing the puck over him. Look for Tyszka to make the roster and be in the rotation for the third defensive pairing.
Carl Stankowski looks like the real deal
The Thunderbirds made Stankowski the first goalie selected in last spring’s Bantam Draft and he showed everyone why on Tuesday. He looked calm, confident and aggressive – things not normally said about 15-year-old goalies. In the morning scrimmage he had to make three or four spectacular saves from point-blank range. His team managed to lose that scrimmage 1-0 on a goal that deflected off of one of his defenseman. Other than that, the Calgary product was solid and it appears that the T-Birds’ goalie pipeline is packed with talented players.
The rookies will be back at it on Wednesday at the ShoWare Center. The first scrimmage is at 9 a.m. and is open to the public.