Well that was fun, wasn't it?
Hard to think of a better way to end a week of development camp than with an exciting 3-on-3 tournament at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. Not only was the place absolutely packed with fans lined three rows deep on the glass, but the hockey was pretty darn entertaining, too.
It was a demanding Thursday for the prospects, and it began early at the Griggs Reservoir with coaches from Ohio State's rowing team. After a few lessons about how to operate the boats, the prospects took part in a mini-regatta down the river before heading back to Nationwide Arena for lunch.
A quick nap and walk back to the rink later, it was time for some fun on the ice.
There were three teams in the tournament - white, blue and light blue - and each played two games to determine which moved on to the championship game. Each game ended in a shootout with every goal counting toward total goals scored in the event of a tie, so there was plenty going on in a short period of time.
Here are my observations:
- I've said it a few times this week, but it's a pleasure to watch Mike Reilly skate. It's effortless speed with impressive agility that allows him to join the rush and be the first guy back when the puck goes the other way. He scored a couple of nice goals in the 3-on-3 format, as well.
- Speaking of skating well, how about Dillon Heatherington? He might be pegged as a defensive defenseman but he moved great all week long, and today was no exception. He's got underrated skill, too, and hopefully we see more of it in the coming years.
- Alexander Wennberg is very good at hockey. Tough to add anything else, but it's fun to watch his "computer" at work when he's on the ice. He always seems to be a half-step ahead of everyone else.
- Seth Ambroz was good today, and he's now the oldest of three Minnesota Golden Gophers (Reilly, Collins) in the Blue Jackets' system. Big body, skates well, can shoot the puck. A lot to like there and he's made noticeable progress since beginning his NCAA hockey career.
- Daniel Zaar loves to shoot the puck, which is a good thing because he's really good at it. If he continues to get physically stronger and round out his game, there's no telling what kind of ceiling he has.
- The goalies had a good week, too, and in particular Oscar Dansk. He's always been a mature kid, but I liked the way he confronted his second-half struggles and losing his No. 1 job with the Erie Otters. As far as he's concerned, this summer is the start of a new chapter and his next goal is earning the starting job in Springfield.
- One more goalie note: what a character Elvis Merzlikins is. Showed some great personality in the 3-on-3 today and throughout the week in general.
- Sonny Milano was a blast to watch in the 3-on-3 format, and if you tuned into today's broadcast, you know why.
- All the slap shots from Peter Quenneville, and he even used the full wind-up twice (with success) in the shootout. Kid can really fire the puck and he's drawn some really good reports from Brandon in the WHL.
- Development camp invite Markus Hannikainen scored a couple of really sweet goals in the 3-on-3 today. Don't know what the future holds for him, but he had some bright spots this week.
- Big defenseman Thomas Larkin, who is completing his sixth development camp, was among the highlights today. He tried the "kick-stick" move in the shootout and really didn't stop making plays all afternoon. He could be a nice add (on a regular basis) to Springfield's defense this fall.
- Markus Soberg is officially signed and ready to join the Windsor Spitfires this fall, which means Blue Jackets fans will get to see a lot more of this intriguing Norweigan prospect. He's got skill, elusiveness and good hockey sense, and now he'll join a great program with Warren Rychel and Bob Boughner at the helm.
- In closing, some housekeeping items: prospects will conduct their exit interviews with assistant GM Bill Zito and Chris Clark on Friday morning before departing. They'll have an offseason guide to take home with them, along with some advice on preparing for NHL training camp in September.
- Wennberg, who has been in Columbus for the past few weeks training, will return home this weekend and come back before main camp begins. Rychel drove down from his home in Windsor and plans to stay in town for the next week or so, working out with Blue Jackets strength and conditioning coach Kevin Collins, the man more affectionately known as "Killer."