The 22 prospects began the day with an early morning on-ice session at Polar Ice in Peoria that evolved into four-on-four and three-on-three scrimmages. Goalie Mark Visentin
, forward Matt Watkins and defensemen Mathieu Broduer and Oliver Ekman-Larsson
turned heads with outstanding play during the scrimmages.
After lunch, the players were driven to a Valley training facility for firefighters and spent about 90 minutes doing firefighting drills while competing as groups. Firefighting mentors helped the teams with the drills, which included tasks such as climbing a StairMaster while wearing a 50-pound vest, dragging a 180-pound dummy around cones, lugging a hose up a staircase, crawling through a dark tunnel/obstacle course and unloosening a tight-fitting hydrant cap.
► Click here
to view a photo gallery of "The Fire Challenge."
Bob Groholski was one of several firefighters on hand to oversee the drills/competition, which Coyotes management dubbed “The Fire Challenge.”
“It seems like the boys are all having a lot of fun,” Groholski said. “They have so much energy. I feel old watching them. I am also seeing a lot of determination to do the drills correctly.”
|A team of prospects regroup after crawling through the tunnel/obstacle course. Photo by Dave Vest. |
Groholski and some of the mentors on hand play hockey recreationally and recommended “The Fire Challenge” to the Coyotes as a way to test the fitness levels of the prospects and to help build group/team chemistry.
“Firefighting is a lot like hockey,” Groholski said. “A lot of times we work in groups of five or six five people at a time just like a hockey team works with five or six people at a time. You’re only as strong as your weakest player or your weakest firefighter... It does take a lot of teamwork and a lot of coordination to complete these tasks.”
The prospects worked hard, using some muscles they don’t normally use. Most of them were drenched in sweat by the time the competition was over.
Defenseman Michael Stone
said he enjoyed “The Fire Challenge,” which was staged indoors.
|Chris Summers climbs a StairMaster wearing a 50-pound vest. Photo by Dave Vest. |
“It was really fun with a lot of good team bonding,” Stone said. “Being competitive against each other was a lot of fun also. I think it brought the group closer together and some guys out of their shells maybe a little bit.”
Forward Evan Bloodoff also had a good time and left with an even greater amount of respect for firefighters.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Bloodoff said. “I’ve never done anything like this ever before. This really showed us how these firefighters train like this every day and how hard they work.”
The prospects will return to the ice at Polar Ice one last time, on Monday from 11:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. Fans are invited to attend.EDITOR’S NOTE:
Check back to phoenixcoyotes.com soon to watch an in-depth video of the prospects at “The Fire Challenge.”