WILMINGTON, MA - As Development Camp hits Day 4, the prospects have now gone through session after session of on-ice drills and scrimmages, along with off-ice fitness testing.
On Saturday, the competitiveness began to reach a higher level, and the scrimmages and game-like situations showcased a quicker pace to the game. Most of the attendees haven't skated in weeks or even months, so as they get their legs under them, the tempo picks up as well.
"We’re here to develop skills and the off-ice [part of the game]," say Providence Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, who is helping lead the camp this week, said following Day 4's workouts.
"Scouts obviously love to see that to see what they’ve drafted and as coaches we like it, too."
The prospects are given a chance to display their skill sets on the ice, but they're also tested off the ice. They are faced with new challenges every day, and every day gets progressively harder.
The greatest of their tests so far came on Saturday morning, with a running test prior to the on-ice workouts.
But this isn't just any running test. It's a 25-yard shuttle run that the prospects have to complete three times, in less than a minute. No room for pass or fail, here - they are expected to complete it it. With the stops and starts, their legs tighten up and start burning.
"It was tough," smiled Anthony Camara, laughing for a brief moment before answering, after I asked him about the shuttle run.
The forward is projected to be a Providence Bruin next season after finishing up his junior career with the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts this past spring.
"They expect you to pass and obviously, you have to. It's hard but it's good when teammates are cheering you on to push you a little bit more, gives you more confidence."
With this camp being Camara's third, the veteran knows what to expect, but it still doesn't make it any easier.
"It's getting harder each day but it's easier to have the guys along with you," he said.
Being athletes, in it's in their makeup to embrace challenges. This one, however grueling, it no different.
"This morning, we were looking forward to the fitness test - that will get your legs burning," said an ever-eager Brian Ferlin, a forward who was drafted by the B's in 2011 and finished up his sophomore season at Cornell in the spring.
"So, we were all pretty dead after that - all looking forward to it, though, of course," he smiled.
"You've just got to give it your all - it’s a really hard test no matter what shape you’re in," added defenseman Matt Benning, a 2012 draft pick, who will be a freshman at Northeastern University in the Fall.
"I think all the boys did really well this morning so we’re all pretty happy it’s done with and we’re all pretty happy on how we did."
Competitiveness Ramps Up, Team Mentality Kicks In
The 24 attendees here this week came from the U.S., Canada, Sweden and Slovakia to take part in the camp. Forwards, defensemen, goalies, 18-year-olds, 23-year-olds, college and junior players alike, all coming from different background, different methods of learning and honing their skills.
But they all have one thing in common - they were invited to be here by the Boston Bruins.
When Patrice Bergeron was signed to an eight-year contract extension on Friday, amidst Development Camp, the alternate captain said the club's team-mentality is what has wanted him to remain a Bruin.
"It’s the mentality in the organization - it’s team first and to me, it means a lot. That’s the only way you can win and, to me, it exemplifies exactly the values that I have."
As such, that same mindset is asked - and expected - of anyone in the organization, whether it's a current Boston Bruins, a draft pick at Development Camp or otherwise.
"The main of part of this camp is to get to know one another off the ice, and I think the guys are starting to open up and being on the ice and working hard and sweating with one another," said Camara of the camaraderie amongst the group.
And part of being a "team" is challenging one another, something we saw in the scrimmages, which altogether took up about an hour of the workouts. As we get into "game" action, line combinations and defense pairings are formed, further adding to the team atmosphere.
"We're getting a little tired, but once you get games going, you kind of forget about the fatigue and it's more fun," said Ryan Carpenter, invited to camp out of Bowling Green State University. He wasn't drafted, but the Bruins see potential. Other attendees Matt Lindblad and Chris Casto are among the players (like Boston blueliner Torey Krug) who were signed but the Bruins as undrafted free agents out of college.
"It's really competitive out there. You see guys hitting, banging and going to the net."
"They always say, you're not going to make the team here but you still want to leave a good impression," said Ferlin.
"So I think everyone comes here with the mindset that they want to compete and they want to work hard and win all their puck battles and still be the best guy out there, just like you want to be in a real game. It's still intense and guys are working hard - it's a lot of fun."