The Coyotes recently recalled eight players from their affiliate in the American Hockey League so the players could get a taste of the atmosphere surrounding the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was a reward for the productive seasons they had playing for the San Antonio Rampage.
Those eight players are forwards Mikkel Boedker
, Brett MacLean
, Joel Perrault, Alexandre Picard and Kyle Turris, defenseman David Schlemko
and goaltenders Al Montoya and Josh Tordjman.
The group has formed a practice squad with the goal of being ready in case one or more of them is needed in a Coyotes playoff game. San Antonio Head Coach Ray Edwards has been working with the squad, after the Coyotes practice, at Jobing.com Arena and is helping the players stay sharp.
“We talk about the mind-set of having to be ready and keeping your mind right,” Edwards said. “We’re trying to do enough things in a short time on the ice that we have to keep their competitive skills there, the emotional level at the right spot, and then obviously the conditioning, but it’s a mind-set right now for them to stay ready.”
|Josh Tordjman |
Tordjman, who posted a record of 20-22-2 with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage for San Antonio in the AHL this season, has been practicing with the Coyotes as the third goalie. He typically replaces starter Ilya Bryzgalov in net at practices and morning skates after Bryzgalov decides he’s done with his workout and leaves the ice.
“You get to live the experience of going for the biggest championship in sports and it’s a great experience to be around as much of the guys as we can be,” Tordjman said. “For us, it’s to get a good sweat in, work hard and be ready at all times.”
Tordjman, Boedker, Perrault and Picard were with the Coyotes in Detroit for Games 3 and 4.
MacLean, who led San Antonio in scoring with 30 goals and 35 assists for 65 points in 76 games, thinks that this experience will greatly benefit him - and the other “black aces” as they’re called - down the road.
“It’s a good feeling,” MacLean said. “Obviously, it’s a great accomplishment to finish your season down there and they recognized that you had a good year and bring you up here.”
Turris, who finished second in scoring this season in San Antonio with 24 goals and 39 assists for 63 points in 76 games, said that being around the big club in the postseason has been a good experience.
“It’s very exciting,” Turris said. “It’s a great experience for all of us who got called up to be a part of it and see how the team functions and what a playoff atmosphere is like. It’s lots of fun for everybody and we’re just rooting on the team.”