After three and a half days of hard work and education, the Jackets' prospects got to have some fun and play in the annual development camp 4-on-4 tournament. In the end, Team Campbell, coached by former Jackets player and current development coach, Gregory Campbell, took home the championship and the Stinger Cup.
"It was a great culmination to a great week," Campbell said. "These kids came in here and they were really receptive to all the things we threw at them, and we threw a lot at them. They've been diligent with their work ethic, they've been up early, some days they've been on the ice twice. To finish the week off with a little bit of fun and a competitive atmosphere is always nice."
In addition to Campbell, development coach Chris Clark led the grey squad, while European development coach Jarkko Ruutu coached the white team.
Game one matched up Team Campbell and Team Ruutu. A rough 60 second span near the beginning of the 12-minute game saw Campbell goalie Ivan Kulbakov give up three goals to Michael Joyaux, newly drafted Jonathan Davidsson and Bobby MacIntyre. The 3-0 tally would last through the game and give Ruutu goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks the shutout win.
There was little time to regroup for Team Campbell who stayed on the ice to face Team Clark. This time, Team Campbell fought for the win. Tyler Bird scored just 23 seconds into the game and Scott Savage added the insurance goal to give Campbell a 2-0 victory. Kole Sherwood drew a tripping penalty with 2:14 remaining, but he couldn't convert the penalty shot and Kulbakov walked away with the shutout.
After two fast-paced games, Team Ruutu and Team Clark gave the fans who packed the OhioHealth Ice Haus some extra entertainment. Jonathan Davidsson added his second goal of the night to give Team Ruutu the lead, before freshly-drafted Powell native Carson Meyer fed the puck to New Albany's Kole Sherwood for an all-Ohio score that tied the game 1-1.
When regulation expired, the two teams engaged in a six-round shootout that saw scores from 20-year-old Kevin Stenlund and Sherwood before Luke Kutkevicius put the puck past Peter Thome to seal the win for Team Ruutu.
The win put Team Ruutu on top of the standings with two victories, and with Team Clark going winless, that meant Team Campbell was the opponent for Ruutu in the Championship.
But before the two teams would play, a five-round shootout determined which roster would start the game with a one goal lead. Calvin Thurkauf had the lone score in the skills competition and Team Campbell began the final match up 1-0.
"It was nice to be a part of the success of our team," Thurkauf said with a smile. "We had a lot of fun out there."
When the Championship game officially got underway, Joyaux wasted no time getting his second score of the night 3:10 into the game. Out of a scuffle to the right of the net, the Bloomingdale native banged the puck past Kulbakov to tie the game 1-1. The teams battled back and forth for the next four minutes, before Savage fired a wrister to score his second goal of the tournament and regain the lead for Team Campbell, one they would not relinquish.
"I was coming in on a break," Savage said. "It was a two-on-one and (Emil) Bemstrom made a good pass to me, and I just tried to get it on net. The goalie was moving so I knew if I hit the net I had a good chance of it going in."
When the final buzzer sounded, Team Campbell swarmed their goaltender before returning to center ice to hoist the Stinger Cup. Savage, who had participated in the Jackets' Development Camp in 2015 and played three games with the Cleveland Monsters this season, was thrilled to repeat as a champion.
"I wanted to (win the tournament) again," Savage said. "We all wanted to win, it's bragging rights. We worked hard, we lost our first game and came back and rallied to win the next two.
"It's a grueling camp and we learn a lot. It's a lot of practice; To have a 4-on-4 tournament is something to look forward to. It's great for the fans, it's great for us to just come out and have fun."
And what comes next for the champions? Campbell isn't sure if this trophy will travel amongst team members like the Stanley Cup, but if it does he knows where it can start.
"I guess that is usually the tradition with a championship," Campbell joked. "We'll see how the schedule works out. The head coach usually gets priority (with the Cup) so we'll see how it goes."