GLENDALE – The Coyotes headed to western Canada late Sunday afternoon where they will play two preseason games in three nights as training camp continues.
Before departing, the team announced that five young players – defensemen Connor Murphy and Brandon Gormley, goalies Mark Visentin and Mike Lee, and forward Brendan Shinnimin – have been assigned to the team’s affiliate in the American Hockey League.
That leaves 31 players in camp with the regular-season opener vs. the New York Rangers on Oct. 3 just around the corner.
On this trip, Phoenix will play preseason games at Vancouver on Monday and at Calgary on Wednesday. They will practice on Tuesday in Vancouver.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan said this training camp trip will be good for team bonding and it will also serve to help the Coyotes get ready for a lengthy five-game trip that takes place right after the season opener at home on Oct. 3.
“We’ve got to get some positives out of (this trip),” Doan said. “We’re going to have to play well on the road. Last year we weren’t as good as we wanted to be and we have to be better.”
While veteran players will use the two preseason games as tuneups, prospects such as Andy Miele, Chris Brown, Max Domi, Lucas Lessio and Jordan Szwarz will use them as final auditions for roster spots.
Szwarz, a fourth-round draft pick in 2009, is expecting a spirited competition for jobs this week.
“Time is running out before that first regular-season game opens and it’s getting competitive here,” Szwarz said. “Guys are working hard every day and it’s going to come down to a tight finish.”
Miele, the 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner, has notched a point in each of the three preseason games he has played. He’s hoping to keep contributing on this trip.
“I’m a lot more comfortable (at this camp) than I was in years before because I know the guys better and I know the staff, so it’s been a lot of fun and a great experience,” Miele said.
He added, “I’m still here so that’s a good sign.”
While the young players battle it out with some new veterans still in camp, Head Coach Dave Tippett will be keeping a close eye on how the team plays as a unit.
“These will be two important games in our preparation,” Tippett said. “There are a few guys still pushing for jobs, but the main focus now is to get our group up and playing, and making sure we have our team game in order so we’re ready for Oct. 3.”
The following players are still at camp:
Rostislav Klesla (injured)