By Andrew Eide
The Thunderbirds were back on the ice Saturday afternoon as the team’s main camp kicked off with three scrimmages. The team was split into three teams who played a round robin style set of ‘games’ against each other. Rosters for the three squads were made up of a combination of returning players, hopeful rookies and this year’s bantam draft picks.
The Blue team dominated the play Saturday winning both of their sessions, despite being out shot in both. The day ended with the Grey and White teams going to a shoot out after White tied it up with only eight seconds left on the clock. They couldn’t carry that momentum into the shoot out however as both Alex Delnov and Jagger Williamson converted on their attempts to give Grey the win.
Here are some of the notable moments and players from Saturday’s action.
Mathew Barzal – Justin Hickman – Roberts Lipsbergs: The Blue team’s top line came out firing in the first session as this line scored goals on their first three shifts and ended the day as a plus-5 line. They owned the puck and were buzzing around the net all day. Training camp is too early to say what the regular season lines will be but these three were fun to watch on Saturday.
Barzal play of the day: Barzal continues to be impressive and he got off to a good start as he pick-pocketed the puck away from Jesse Forsberg, quickly turned and beat a helpless Danny Mumaugh with a top shelf wrister.
Honey at center: There is some question as to who will play center for the T-Birds this season and Saturday Connor Honey was centering a line, with Mitch Elliot and Kegan Kolesar. Again, this doesn’t mean that he will play center but it was interesting to see him lining up there.
Hit of the day: There was some good physical play on Saturday but defenseman Jared Hauf caught Mitch Elliot with his head down and delivered a bruising open ice hit. Given Elliot’s size, this was no small feat.
Goalies: The battle for goalie is one of the T-Birds biggest competitions to watch this weekend and all the contenders saw action on Saturday. Danny Mumaugh had the unenviable task of trying to stop the Barzal line early and after giving up two goals had to leave the ice. It’s not sure if he was injured but he did not return. Justin Myles also faced the Blue team and gave up a couple of goals but made several stellar saves throughout his time. Devon Fordyce might have to get an incomplete as his time in net didn’t feature a lot of scoring chances against – he looked solid though. Logan Flodell got the last run of the day and played well for the White team, making several nice saves in the afternoon.
Save of the day: The save of the day goes to Myles who stoned Lipsbergs who was sprung free on a nice up ice pass from Barzal. He broke in on Myles who waited him out and stopped the Latvian.
Carter Folk: Folk made himself a presence in the afternoon session as he threw several big hits and got under the skin of the White team. He scored a goal and got into a scrap with Griffin Foulk (yes, Folk v Foulk) and ended the day an assist short of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
Most amusing moment: In the last session the Grey team appeared to score a goal – only to have the linesman waive it off. Seth Swenson did not agree and could be heard saying ‘That’s so bad!’. Who says they don’t take these scrimmages seriously?
Keegan Kolesar: Kolesar had a nice run for the White team in the last session. He had a couple of nice forechecks that resulted in turnovers and set up the late game tying goal. On that play the big power forward showed some stick handling chops as he made a nice move to get past Hauf at the blue line.
Hauf: Jared Hauf did not shoot the puck much last season as he did not score until the playoffs. Saturday he showed that he might look for the net more this season. He took several nice shots from the point, including an improved looking slap shot.
Rookies shine: The T-Birds rookies showed well again on Saturday as guys like Ethan Bear, Luke Osterman and Lane Pederson had impressive games.
The team is back at it Sunday with two sessions – starting at 9 a.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. The main camp concludes with the Blue-White game on Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. All sessions are free to the public.
Follow Andrew on twitter @andyeide