Five minutes into the on-ice portion of the first day of camp, the players knew this was different than two months ago.
"I think this is the real thing. There's a way higher intensity and guys are going a lot harder," said Scott Laughton, who at this year's development camp made it no secret that his goal was to not just make the Flyers roster, but earn a permanent stay.
Having initially made the roster in each of the last two seasons, (but ultimately spending valuable time back in Oshawa) Laughton knows how important it is to take these days at rookie camp seriously to catapult him into main camp.
"I think these high-intensity skates and working on systems are getting us familiar with the system they [Flyers] are going to play here and it's going to give us a head start on camp."
Unlike Laughton, but placed in the same category as a highly-touted prospect, this is the first training camp for defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who was eligible to participate in the summer Development Camp in prior years, but not training camps due to his commitments to Union College in the NCAA.
And while development camp is good to absorb the information and habits in becoming a professional, it's this type of camp that gets him excited.
"It was definitely a faster pace out there with the first practice. I had to catch my breath a couple times," said Gostisbehere. "I love to battle one-on-one. I don't like the easy, low practices. I feel like you have to get better and make quicker decisions and that makes you a better hockey player."
While all players had to shake off their competitive rust and are not where they want to be, Flyers head coach Craig Berube was impressed with the tempo of Day 1, including Gostisbehere.
"The way he gets up the ice and skates, he's so smooth, it's hard not to notice him," said Berube. "But there's a lot of guys that do different things for a hockey team and each individual has his own thing."
The intensity is sure to pick up after Day 1, but what will stay the same is the routine for the Rookies: dry-land training early in the morning and back on the ice at 11 am.
ONE HUNDRED PERCENT
One prospect Flyers fans couldn't get a look at on the ice at Development Camp was Anthony Stolarz, the club's second round pick in the 2012 Draft, who was out of action after having surgery on his hip in early June.
Stolarz had been skating and rehabbing both on and off the ice in the last few weeks to get ready for rookie and main camp. After Day 1, Stolarz announced that while it was an intense atmosphere, he is 100 percent healthy and ready to compete for a spot.
"I've rehabbed everyday and I owe a lot to Jim McCrossin (Flyers Director of Sports Medicine)," said Stolarz. "He was here with me all summer and we just worked on getting it back up and in shape to 100 percent again so I don't have to worry about it during the season."
Stolarz focus is to earn a spot and starts in Lehigh Valley come October.
"It's exciting to start my pro career. It's a big step, but the way I look at it is that there's six goalies in camp and we're all battling for position and I don't think anybody's, except for the NHL guys, roster spot is safe. You just have to go out there and compete everyday and prove that you can play at that level."
WORDS OF WISDOM
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger stopped by the practice facility on Friday briefly to say hi to the rookies as they begin camp. The Flyers first round pick in 2013, Sam Morin is often compared to Pronger, especially considering their similarities in size and build.
Naturally the two have met and talked since that draft when he first introduced himself to the former Hart and Norris Trophy winning blue liner, including during the playoffs this past season.
"I spoke to him about nutrition and training," said Pronger. "Then we started talking about hockey and we spoke about intensity and harnessing that intensity and passion and anger into a positive and using it to be unpredictable on the ice and keep opponents off-kilter."
|Scott Laughton practices puck control drills with Taylor Leier. |
Leier and Laughton were paired on the same line together on Day 1