SCOTTSDALE – The Coyotes punctuated their annual Prospect Development Camp with a lengthy on-ice session at the Ice Den in front of an enthusiastic crowd that didn’t want it to end.
The 39 players at camp were divided into two groups on Thursday and each group scrimmaged for 20 minutes - plus a shootout. In a move designed by management to create more room for scoring, the scrimmages began with a 4-on-4 format and then evolved into 3-on-3. It worked. Lots of goals were scored by the well-known prospects and a few by the lesser-known prospects.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
“If you can get out there 4-on-4 and work on your skill, it’s a lot different and a lot of fun,” said forward Greg Carey, who was attending his first prospect camp. “You’re able to get out of your comfort zone and you get to do things you wouldn’t normally do in a game. That helps a player showcase individual talents, and I think the guys did a great job.”
As expected, first-round draft picks Henrik Samuelsson (2012), Max Domi (2013) and Brendan Perlini (2014) flashed their goal-scoring touches during the roomy scrimmages.
“The first-round guys do jump out at you,” said Goaltenders Coach Sean Burke, who also plays a significant role in the team’s prospect development. “And that’s’ good for the other guys, too. They see the level they’ve got to get to.”
He added, “For our young guys, especially our first-rounders and high picks, we’re real happy. You can see some real skill out there and real talent. And they’re all in great shape. They’re good kids, they’ve been working really hard this summer. I think it bodes well for our training camp (in September).”
Domi, attending his second prospect camp for the Coyotes, enjoyed the four-day event that included off-ice gatherings such as a team bowling tournament and team dinner.
|Max Domi. Photo by Norm Hall. |
“It was a good week overall,” Domi said. “This was way easier for me coming in here a second year. I wasn’t nearly as nervous and I was a lot more confident and excited, too.”
Perlini scored a goal in the scrimmage and another in the shootout, all while showcasing his strong skating skills that the Coyotes love.
He said his first experience with the team that drafted him 12th overall a few weeks ago was a good one.
“I learned a lot,” Perlini said. “That was one of my goals coming in here was to just kind of learn about the city and the culture and stuff off the ice too, like nutrition. I thought I did that. Overall it was a good camp. I’m real excited with how things went and I’m looking forward to getting back here in September.”
Prospect Zac Larraza, who grew up in Scottsdale and learned to play hockey at the Ice Den, attended his fourth camp. He said he and his fellow prospects liked how this one was structured, with scrimmages on two of the three days.
|Brendan Perlini. Photo by Norm Hall. |
“This is definitely one of the best ones I’ve been a part of,” Larraza said. “In the past, we really haven’t done a lot of games. It’s kind of hard to gauge some players but this was a lot of fun to see some guys that I’ve never seen before and some guys I’ve seen over the past few years kind of develop and finally see what they have out here (in game situations).”
The Coyotes prospects and staff members were pleased by the number of fans who attended the on-ice sessions at the Ice Den; the place was packed each day, especially on Thursday.
“It was great to see that,” Larraza said. “I’ve been doing this for four years and I think this is the biggest (turnout) I’ve ever seen. It just felt a little more special this year with the rejuvenated team here.”
“The support is crazy,” Domi said. “For (being) the middle of the summer and with all this heat, for all these people to come out and watch is pretty impressive. It’s awesome.”