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The Desert Dog Blog: Prospects Go Hiking, Food Shopping on Day Away from Ice

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – The 2012 Coyotes Prospect Development Camp continued on Thursday, but not on the ice.

Instead, the 33 players in camp learned about proper nutrition and worked out off the ice, including a 1.2-mile hike up Camelback Mountain.

Led by General Manager Don Maloney, Director of Player Development/Goaltending Coach Sean Burke and new Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Tommy Powers, the players scaled the rocky Phoenix landmark in near triple-digit heat and then posed for a group photo at the top – about 1,200 feet above the spot where they started the early-morning hike.

“It was pretty challenging, especially when you get to the top,” prospect Brendan Shinnimin said. “It’s pretty steep, and there’s this part where you think you’re at the top but then you turn the corner and you’ve got a whole other steep climb, so it was challenging but fun.”

The 2012 prospects climbed Camelback Mountain on Thursday morning.

Prospect Chris Brown, who has attended the prospect camp four times, agreed.

“It was fun,” Brown said. “It’s something different and a little unorthodox. For me, it’s my third time (up the mountain), but for a lot of guys it was their first time. It’s really cool. You get to see what the entre Phoenix metropolitan area looks like.”

Following two days of on-ice workouts, Powers said spending time hiking instead of skating is a good idea at this point in the weeklong the camp.

“The guys get to come together, have some fun, talk on the way up, and challenge themselves as well,” Powers said. “It’s not an easy hike, especially in this heat… it’s a great workout, and, more importantly, it’s a great team-building activity for the guys and all of us.”

After the hike, the players headed to a grocery market in Scottsdale where Powers underlined the importance of proper nutrition and how to shop for the right foods for a pro athlete.

“It’s good to get in here and learn and see what’s available to you,” prospect Brett Hextall said. “Tommy gave us some meal suggestions, and one of the big things you start to realize is that it’s not as hard to cook as you think. It just takes a little bit of incentive to get into the grocery store and seeing what’s there and seeing the options that you have.”

The players will return to the ice on Friday for a final workout before the camp concludes with a team dinner that night. The on-ice session is set for 2:15 p.m. at the Ice Den in Scottsdale. Fans are welcome to attend free of charge.

So far, Maloney has been pleased by what he’s seen from the prospects.

“It just looks to me that we’re bigger, we’re stronger and we’re more competitive in the drills (this year),” he said. “I just like the size and compete level that we’re seeing more and more in our organization.”

The 2012 prospects shopped at Whole Foods in Scottsdale on Thursday afternoon. 

When asked to identify players who stood out in the first two on-ice workouts, Maloney listed defenseman Brandon Gormley and forwards Henrik Samuelsson, Jordan Martinook, Ethan Werek, Lucas Lessio, Brendan Shinnimin and Samuel “Hunter” Fejes.

“Hunter Fejes has caught all of our eyes with his speed and the compete level that he’s had,” Maloney said of the team’s sixth-round selection in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Regarding Shinnimin, the undrafted WHL Player of the Year last season, Maloney said:

“With Brendan, all it takes is five minutes watching practice and you’ll pick him out because he’s the most competitive player in every drill… He’s on the puck hard and he really is fun to watch.”

He added, “Don’t bet against this kid. He’s got this internal drive to succeed… He’s a great asset for our organization to have.”

Of all the prospects in camp, Gormley has the best chance of reaching the NHL first, perhaps as early as next season.

“Everybody thinks it’s our decision,” Maloney said about Gormley claiming a roster spot in training camp. “He’ll make the decision for us.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.

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