GLENDALE – The Coyotes dropped the puck on the 2014-15 Rookie Camp on Saturday at newly renamed Gila River Arena.
Twenty-nine players – three goalies, nine defensemen and 17 forwards – skated for a little more than an hour in front of an enthusiastic group of spectators eager to watch live hockey.
The skate was the end of a long day for the players. It began with detailed medical exams and vigorous physical testing before the on-ice workout.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
“It’s definitely a pretty hard day,” forward Henrik Samuelsson said. “You start off with the medicals and the concussion testing, so that was a little mental workout, but then we went to the physical testing and that was definitely pretty challenging. The skate at the end was really tough so you felt like you got better during this day.”
All eyes were on Samuelsson and Domi, the recent first-round draft picks who had no trouble producing eye-popping offensive statistics in junior hockey last season.
“There are some guys that are trying to earn their way into main camp through accomplishments this week so you certainly keep an eye on everybody,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “Obviously there are guys in there that are closer to getting to our team that get a little more attention. It’s an important week for those guys. ”
Regarding Domi, Tippett said he’d be watching to see how he performs in all zones of the ice this week before the veterans report to main camp on Thursday.
“He’s obviously a very skilled player and a knowledgeable player,” Tippett said. “He had a great camp last year (and) he’ll come in and hopefully be a little better this year. We’ll see where it goes.”
He added, “We know he’s skilled but can he play in a hard-structured, one-goal game in our division? That will be the test.”
Domi is excited to prove that he has worked on his all-around game.
|Max Domi. Photo by Norm Hall. |
“I’ve been trying to learn about how to play when I’m away from the puck in my own zone,” Domi said. “That’s obviously something I’ve been told to work on… I’ve watched video of the Coyotes and how they run things. We’ll see how that works out.”
Domi also is excited for the rookies to play two games vs. LA Kings rookies in Glendale on Tuesday (7 p.m.) and Wednesday (2 p.m.)
“I’m definitely not a practice player,” he said with a laugh. “Sometimes I struggle with practice but at the end of the day it’s how you play in the game. I’m looking forward to playing against someone else for the first time in a few months. I can’t wait.”
Tippett liked what he saw from Samuelsson on the first day of camp. He said he looks more physically mature and focused. He also said it’s easy to see that Samuelsson has been skating with Coyotes veterans on his own the past few weeks.
“I want to make a good first impression to show them that I’ve been working hard this summer,” Samuelsson said. “My goal is to stick with the team as long as I can so I’m going to work hard and try to make it happen. … Getting here and working with the pro guys I think really helped me out. Just keeping up with them will help me out as well.”
The rookies will practice again on Sunday and Monday starting at 10 a.m. at Gila River Arena. On both days the group will be split into two teams for scrimmages starting at 10:50 a.m.
Lessio (38), Dauphin (76), Rieder (8), Perlini (37), MacInnis (49), Kulda (81), Laplante (75), O’Donaghue (78), Playfair (82), Hache (73), Mayo (61), Southorn (72), Suellentrop (56), Brown (black sweater)
Domi (16), Gaudet (38), Samuelsson (15), Carey (80), Dvorak (51), Stevenson (79), Cave (83), Mangiapane (85), Sautner (90), Lebeouf (86), Mermis (91), Melindy (68), Hanley (60), Burke (red sweater), Langhamer (white sweater)
All practices are open to the public and free.