If you host it, they will come.
A standing-room only crowd filled THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE today for the Ducks' development camp scrimmage, which gave fans an up-close look at the club's top prospects. Split into two 25-minute halves with a 15-minute intermission in between, the scrimmage today featured first-round draft picks Jacob Larsson (2015), Sam Steel (2016) and Isac Lundestrom (2018), in addition to prospects like Troy Terry (fifth round, 2015), Antoine Morand (second round, 2017) and Max Comtois (second round, 2017).
Jersey colors were simple - black and white - and each side featured three forwards lines, five defensemen and two goaltenders. The scoring opened in the first half when junior invite (and Morand's QMJHL Acadie-Bathurst teammate) Justin Ducharme gave Team Black a 1-0 lead with a rebound chance on the doorstep. Team White closed out the first half with a tying goal from Blake McLaughlin, whom the Ducks selected with the 79th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Terry opened the second half with a goal - a severe-angle shot from the corner of the net to give Team Black a 2-1 advantage. The lead held until Team White's Carter Berger (college invite) sent a seeing-eye point shot over the glove to knot the game at two goals apiece.
The game eventually went to a 3-on-3 overtime, where 2018 second-round pick Benoit-Olivier Groulx scored the winning goal for Team Black. It was a wraparound opportunity that came in the late stages of OT after he corralled a loose puck behind the net. Following hugs from his teammates, players from both sides met at center ice to salute the crowd.
The scrimmage marked the finale of the four-day development camp, which placed an emphasis on both on-ice and off-ice development. And while the focus is on education, it included fun group outings as well. The players went to Huntington Beach on Friday and took in a Dodgers game on Saturday. As each player departs for the remainder of the summer, they can take what they learned here and apply it moving forward.
"I learned how to be a pro," said McLaughlin, who is committed to the University of Minnesota for the 2018-19 season. "A lot of the guys here have been here for three or four years. Some of them have signed, so you learn and watch how they prepare for practices and workouts. Take little things off of them."
This marked the second Ducks development camp for Comtois, who says he is going to do everything he can to make the big club next season. "I want to prove to myself I'm NHL ready," he said. "I want to make the step next year and keep learning. Keep working on my weaknesses. Arrive at camp ready to go."
He said he couldn't help but notice the capacity crowd inside the building today, a welcomed sight for everyone involved. "It's always fun to have support from the fans," he said. "We play for them, too, so it was nice that it was packed today. We feel all of their support."
Many of these players will be back in a little over two months when the Ducks hold their rookie camp in early September.
Video: Third-rounder McLaughlin talks Development Camp
Video: Maxime Comtois recaps Development Camp
Video: Antoine Morand recaps his Development Camp experience