The Thunderbirds opened training camp Thursday with a full day of activities. There were two scrimmages between teams made up of the club’s 15- and 16-year-old prospects sandwiched around the veteran players’ on-ice fitness testing and practice.
The team will have the same schedule Friday as the third scrimmage between the prospects will get going at nine o’clock at the ShoWare Center.
Here are the notable items from Thursday.
The more recognizable names stood out during Thursday’s scrimmage. Last year’s first round pick Kaden Elder looked strong in both games, made a lot of plays and looks like he’s ready for the main camp. His fellow draft class mate Nolan Volcan also had a strong showing, scoring a couple of goals.
Sahvan Khaira also looked impressive from the blue line on Thursday. He has the size, showed that he can skate well, was poised and stepped up his physical game in the second scrimmage. It will be interesting to see how he matches up in the main camp with the older players.
2013 fifth-round pick Brandon Schuldhaus also had a nice showing. The 16-year-old defenceman showed that he too could play physical and had a couple of nice, big, open-ice hits.
Other players who had good moments on Thursday included Matthew Wedman, Tyler Graber, Liam Freeborn, Wyatt Bear, Trevor Ayre, MacKenzie Wight and Colin Baird.
Goodall back in T-Birds colors
There was another Goodall skating for the T-Birds Thursday as Jacksyn Goodall participated in both rookie scrimmages. He’s the son of Glen Goodall, the T-Birds’ all-time leading scorer, and the 15-year-old had some good moments on the ice as well. He played hard and set up some good chances in the afternoon scrimmage.
The older, returning players were on the ice Thursday as well. It started with a grueling on-ice testing that had several players hunched over on the ice afterwards. One of the most notable players during these drills was Keegan Kolesar. Kolesar appears to have arrived in camp leaner and faster and it will be interesting to see how that translates into game action.
The team also had a spirited practice in the afternoon and the team appeared to be loose and ready to work.
Over-agers and goalies
Thursday was the first step in figuring out the T-Birds biggest questions coming into training camp. They have six over-aged players currently on the roster and three WHL caliber goaltenders. There are some big decisions to be made coming up over the next few weeks.
Connor Honey was absent from the activities on Thursday but there is yet to be an official word on what his status is. Honey only appeared in seven games last year due to injury.
Goalies Taran Kozun, Danny Mumaugh and Logan Flodell were all in action Thursday as well. The team will only carry two goalies during the season and since all three of these guys can play, and play well, at this level, there is a move to be made here. Will the club go with Kozun, who was big for the T-Birds down the stretch last year? Will they move Kozun and go with the younger pair of Mumaugh and Flodell? This will be a story line to watch over the weekend and exhibition season.