PROSPECTS CAMP – DAY 3
Déjà vu was a widespread feeling at Summer Conditioning Camp on Wednesday as the Canucks prospects spent most of Wednesday working on drills they were put through on Monday.
The biggest difference between now and then is that earlier on in the week mistakes were bound to be made and most of them were chalked up to first day jitters.
There are no excuses now and there won’t be from here on out. ALL EYES ON YOU
This is the opportunity of a lifetime for many of these players; they’re being given a clean slate to prove themselves to the Canucks coaching brass. Stan Smyl, senior advisor to general manager Mike Gillis, said it’s crucial players make the most of it.
“It’s really important they have a good showing,” Smyl said during an on-ice session Wednesday morning.
“We get to see these guys play in game situations, now it’s an opportunity to see their skills a little bit more. Seeing how they play in the games is good, but we’d like to see a little more of how they handle the puck and this is a great opportunity for them to show it.
“This week is great too because you get that time to spend with them a little bit more. In the game situation you don’t have that opportunity to talk to them about certain things, whereas this week we do. We can talk to them about their game and how they can improve their game also.”
Smyl and other Canucks staff, including Dave Gagner, director of player development, watch Vancouver’s prospects as much as possible throughout the year and when they do they’ve got their clipboards out.
All those pages of notes finally get used this week when the coaching staff can specify what they think every player needs work on.
“There’s a mental checklist that I go through with the prospects when I see them play and I mark down little things that you see in their game during the regular season,” explained Smyl.
“Now it’s the opportunity to talk about some of the things that can help them grow to be better players.” ICE TIMES AT UBC
With American Idol taking over GM Place for a show Wednesday night, the prospects, including Cody Hodgson for the first time this week, were once again at UBC on day 3 and the action was underway by 9 a.m. when the players were split into two groups.
Just like Monday, one took aim at skating, while the other worked on stick handling. The drills were noticeably faster from both sides, especially the stick handling.
That’s no fluke, according to Dusan Kralik, senior instructor with Endure Sports.
The product of Czech Repulic, who sported his country’s colours in the 1986 World Jr. Tournament, has been watching the players closely in three areas hoping to develop their hands, puck handling and shooting as effectively as possible.
“I do it in two different environments; one is working on the synthetic ice and then on the ice,” said Kralik.
“The whole idea is to be able to perform in a game like situation and if you watched most of the drills, it’s under high tempo, high intensity, because in a game you don’t have much time. The faster you do it in a practice, the better chance you have to do it in a game.
“I try to do a lot of repetition, which you develop almost like muscle memories and once the situation occurs, you are really able to get what you need out of it.”
Throughout the week the prospects will spend over three hours working with Kralik and although he’s only half done guiding the players to a better overall game, he’s already seeing improvements in a number of individuals.
One noticeable change came in how the players hold their hands on their stick. Kralik found he was correcting a lot of players during the first round of synthetic training on Tuesday, but by the final round the players were making the proper adjustments themselves.
“These guys are players already but there are little things that you have to focus on in order to have the timing to do what you want with the puck,” Kralik said.
“If you don’t have the hands ready on the stick, then you have to adjust them and the moment is just gone already.” THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Three players not benefiting from Kralik’s expertise are Joe Cannata
, Morgan Clark and Brian Stewart. The common thread woven between these prospects is that they’re all goaltenders.
Down at the lonely end of the rink Cannata, Clark and Stewart were working closely with Manitoba Moose assistant coach Rick St. Croix, perhaps better known for the Rick St. Croix School of Goaltending.
Cannata has been absorbing the teachings of St. Croix like a sponge and even though a lot of what the sixth round pick from 2009 is hearing is familiar, it never hurts to be taught it again.
“The first session we did with Rick was mostly movement, we didn’t really take a lot of shots,” said Cannata, a native of Wakefield, MA.
“He’s got his four-step program called BARS - balance, angles, rebound control, saves. What save you need to make and what saves make you comfortable. All the instructions focus around that.
“It basically means that for balance you have to make sure you’re balanced everywhere to protect your angles. Know your angles to stop the shot to help your rebound control, and then saves you typically make to control those rebounds.”
Cannata, Clark and Stewart stayed on the same ice and worked with St. Croix for both of Wednesday’s ice times.
In the afternoon it was back to the classroom for the prospects, but for arguably the best lesson they’ve had yet.
Class time was spent analyzing the skating they did on Monday, which was recorded and reviewed by Ryan Lounsbury, assistant coach of the men’s Brock Badgers hockey team.
The day ended with a workout with Canucks strength and conditioning coach Roger Takahashi.
After that the prospects were released to explore Vancouver, although judging by their energy levels after their last workout with Takahashi, most of them will opt for a nap before exploring downtown.