CALGARY, AB -- The youth of the Calgary Flames are set to go camping.
Kicking off rookie camp with fitness testing at Canada Olympic Park’s WinSport facility Thursday, Calgary’s contingent can’t wait to hit the ice to kick off prospects camp in Penticton.
“Obviously it’s nice to be done with the fitness testing here, but I’m excited for [Friday] to play my first game in a Calgary jersey,” said Rasmus Andersson, Calgary’s top pick (No. 53) in the 2015 NHL Draft. “It’s going to be a great experience. I just have to go out there and play my game and do what I’m good at. Have a lot of confidence and believe in myself when I get out there.”
Prospects of the Flames, alongside the Winnipeg Jets, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, will participate in the Young Stars Classic. The round-robin tournament, held at the South Okanagan Events Centre, runs September 11-15.
It’ll be Andersson’s first time participating.
“It’s a great tournament with a lot of great players,” he said. “In fact, Calgary had a few good players last year who played the whole season in the NHL. It’s an important tournament, but it’s my first tournament too, so I’m going to watch and learn but still go out there and play my game and do what I’m good at. Just have fun and it’s nice to play hockey again.”
Like Andersson, Oliver Kylington will be participating in his first tournament.
And like the fellow 2015 draftee, Kylington has high hopes heading into the Okanagan.
“I think it’s going to be a good time,” said Kylington, selected 60th overall in June. “It’ll be fun to play against guys that are my age or older that play on different teams. See how they are and see how good we are to match them. It’s going to be a good time and good games.
But before the pair of Swedes could turn their attention to game action, first came the physical testing under the watchful eye of Ryan van Asten, Calgary’s strength and conditioning coach..
Prospects were pushed through a variety of exercises, capped with a two-and-a-half minute sprint on the bike.
“This is kind of my bread and butter,” said van Asten, in his second September with Calgary. “This is kind of what I look forward too. Seeing how the guys progressed throughout the summer. Most of these guys were here in July, so we have a pretty good comparison over the last two months to see how they progressed.
“You get an idea of how well your program is working and what guys need to do keep getting better. This is what we live for and hopefully it translates to what we are doing on the ice.”
The testing was not unlike what prospects went through at development camp in July.
Having that experience helped, Andersson admitted.
It also served as a great way to track progress, too.
“We had it last time we were here, so the second time doing it, it’s always easier,” Andersson said. “But it’s never easy. It’s a really hard test and you’ve got to be ready for every test. I saw a couple of tests here and I did a little bit better than last time I was here.”
With fitness testing in the rear view mirror, the focus has quickly shifted for Calgary’s prospects.
Now, the attention lies on Penticton.
“I’ve always wanted to represent an NHL team,” Kylington said. “Now I have my first chance. I want to take it as good as I can. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to playing against them and representing Calgary.”