MOTHER NATURE'S STAIRMASTER
By Derek Jory
Alex Friesen knew he was in for a long morning the moment his shoes became filled with water.
That was 45 seconds into his trek up Grouse Grind, a legendary Vancouver trail that climbs 2,800 feet over a distance of 2.9 km with an average grade of 17 degrees (31 per cent).
“We realized pretty early on today we were in for a treat,” smiled Friesen.
A trip up Mother Nature’s Stairmaster marked the end of 2012 Vancouver Canucks Development Camp and the prospects certainly went out with a bang – a soggy, soggy, soggy bang.
Mother Nature was cruel to the players as it poured from start to finish, and “whoever told us we’d be covered by the trees is a liar,” laughed a prospect at the top.
The best time individual time of the morning went to Stefano Momesso, who scaled the Grind in 40:11, while Team 1, made up of Mathieu Corbeil, Shayne Taker, Jeremie Blain, Evan McEneny, Kurtis Bartliff, Brendan Gaunce and Friesen had the third best overall team time, but because they climbed as a team (as instructed), they took home first place.
Friesen, a third year camp and Grouse veteran, knew what to expect going in, so he was there for the rookies and helped guide the group up the hill.
“We tried to stick together as best we could because that’s one of the instructions they gave us,” said Friesen, who was actually freezin’. “We had to push each other and make sure we could all keep up to the pace we tried to set. That made for some good bonding and that’s definitely one of the things you take out of it, you have to do it as a team and I think with the team you push each other and you all get a little better.”
Once at the top the prospects gathered in the Timber Room to re-hydrate and dry off before some closing words from Dave Gagner, Vancouver’s director of player development.
There weren’t many smiling faces in the room, what with everyone soaked to the bone and on the verge of hypothermia, but Gagner beamed at the thought of another successful development camp coming to an end.
Gagner said he saw both long-term growth from past draftees and immediate development from players new to camp.
“With the guys who have been here two or three times you can really see a lot of improvement, they have all the highest scores in the physical testing because they know what to expect and they’ve had a couple of years to work on improvements,” said Gagner.
“For the guys that are here the first time, hopefully it’s an eye-opener a bit on what we expect and they get to see for the first time what they need to focus on and be aware of going forward.”
Gagner said he was impressed with what he saw from the prospects on the ice, especially because he geared things to be more competitive than ever this year in terms of having more scrimmages and game-like situations. With the full contingent of Canucks scouting staff in town because of free agency, everyone capitalized on getting to know the players.
“There are some very talented kids here, so hopefully for the free agents of them we made an impression so when it comes time for them to make a determination as to where they want to play, then they consider Vancouver.”
Complete Grind times
1st place – Team 3 – Yanakeff, Jooris, Allen, Carrier, Langlois, Sward, Zajac: 45:58
2nd place – Team 2 – Walsh, Miller, Mallet, Hutton, Franson, Jensen, Kambeitz: 48:00
3rd place – Team 1 – Corbeil, Friesen, Taker, Blain, McEneny, Bartliff, Gaunce: 51:10* (actual winners)
4th place – Team 5 – Rumpel, Vesterholm, Hall, DaSilva, Beattie, Momesso: 52:45
5th place – Team 4 – Cannata, Baldwin, Rush, Baker, Robinson, Corrado: 54:00
Line of the Day #1
”I’m Alex Friesen, someone turn the Dany Heatley up” – Zachary Hall
Line of the Day #2
”When are the Canucks going to win the Stanley Cup?” – Elderly man, wearing a fanny pack, on the skyride down to the bottom of the hill.
Brilliant Idea of the Day
The first prospect to the top of the Grind gets to attend Canucks main camp. Talk about a battle.
I’m off to run this by Mike Gillis right now. Wish me luck.