The prospects in town for the Coyotes development camp took a day off from on-ice workouts on Friday. Instead, they hiked to the top of Camelback Mountain as a group.
"It's a great change of pace for the guys," said Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Mike Bahn, who again guided prospects up the steep and rugged trail for a third consecutive year. "They've been working very hard and skating very hard for a few days in a row so this is a nice change. It's also very challenging and a great team-building event."
General Manager Don Maloney and several other front-office staffers and coaches also hiked with the players up to the peak and back down. Their journey took a little more than an hour.
"I always tell the guys to challenge themselves but to pace themselves," Bahn said. "This is not a race. I don't want guys running or jumping."
Goalie Mike Lee said he enjoyed the experience.
"It's pretty steep," Lee said. "Obviously, there are no hills like that where I come from in Minnesota. It was fun though. The heat wasn't too bad thanks to the cloud cover. The steep climbs in the middle were tough, and then you turn that last corner and you think you've made it but you've still got another 100 or 150 feet to go. But we had fun once we got up there. It was a great view."
Forward Jordan Szwarz
said the hike was a good test of stamina.
"It's kind of intimidating to look at, but it was fun," Lee said of the Valley's most famous mountain. "Going up was definitely the hardest part. You really feel it in your legs right away. But I think it's kind of similar to when you're on the ice and your legs get tired. You've just got to keep pushing."
Unlike Lee and Szwarz, defenseman Jonas Ahnelov
has hiked Camelback several times before including less than a week ago.
''It's still hard even if you've done it before because you need to take such big steps when you're climbing some of the rocks," Ahnelov said.
Asked which he preferred, the trip up the mountain or the trip down the mountain, Ahnelov laughed and said, "The trip up because when I come down I am scared to trip and fall."
The prospects will return to the ice at the Desert Schools Coyotes Center on Saturday from 9:15 a.m. to approximately 11 a.m. The camp will conclude later Saturday after the prospects appear at the Open House at Jobing.com Arena, which begins at 11:30 a.m. Fans are invited to both events.