While day three of Carolina Hurricanes training camp, which included group practices and an abbreviated scrimmage, might not have been as feisty as Friday’s sessions, the 40-plus skaters in camp battled various bumps and bruises, fatigue and a 20-minute in-arena blackout to compete for a stall in the Hurricanes dressing room.
“I thought it looked a little bit like the hump day, which you see all the time on day three of camp,” said Canes head coach Kirk Muller. “It looked like guys were trying to push through it, but it’s just the fatigue level of day three. Whatever it is, it’s always there.”
With a little more room to move on a standard ice sheet, Zach Boychuk shined in Saturday’s scrimmage, potting two goals en route to a 2-1 victory for Team White (Group A).
“I think yesterday might have been more intense, especially with the fights and a few more hits,” Boychuk said. “But the guys are definitely showing that they’re ready to take these spots, and the competition is high.”
Boychuk’s first tally beat Cam Ward top-shelf, and his second goal was highlight reel material, as he dangled through the defense and roofed the finish. He then sent the puck wide on an empty net in a hat-trick bid.
“Yeah, saving those ones for later, I guess,” he said with a smile. “Can’t get them all now.”
Boychuk, 23, enters camp coming off a shortened season in which he bounced around to Pittsburgh, Nashville and back to Carolina, before finishing the season in the AHL with Charlotte. He skated in 13 NHL games, recording a goal and an assist.
“Last year didn’t go the way that I wanted to. I want to be a full-time NHL player,” he said. “I took this summer to really prepare, come down early and now I want to prove some people wrong. This camp is very important to me, so I’m looking forward to showing what I can do.”
“We’re giving everyone a chance in evaluation, and I’m sure he’s trying to find his place again,” Muller said. “Where he can help is he can score goals, and you saw it today.”
Having just recently signed a one-year, two-way contract, Boychuk, who was selected by Carolina 14th overall in 2008, is eager to establish himself.
“It’s nice to see that there are some open spots on forward. There is a lot of competition and some great players here that are vying for those spots,” he said. “It’s going to be a fight right to the end.”
Jeff Skinner tallied a goal for Team Red (Group B). Another standout in the scrimmage was Tim Gleason, who continues to play a physical brand of defense. He also jumped into the rush at one point and promptly skated back to break up a two-on-one chance.
A few faces switched sides in Saturday’s new groupings, as the two bunches skated for around an hour in similar fashion to Friday’s practices.
But at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, the first group might have been a step behind.
“It looks like the second session is always better,” Muller joked. “You know which guys are the married guys and which guys are the single guys, I know that.”
Saturday’s skates marked the first on-ice action for defenseman Ron Hainsey, who the Canes signed as a free agent on Thursday. The 32-year-old defenseman drove down from Connecticut to Raleigh on Friday, jumping right into the mix this morning.
"Well, I went right into the scrimmage. No practice. That decision was made easy for me," Hainsey said with a smile. "And that was fine. The quicker you get into game situations … you’ve got to get that timing back."
Jiri Tlusty, who was crunched hard along the boards Friday, was held off the ice again and is likely to return Monday, according to Muller. Sergey Tolchinsky, who was pulled off the ice on the first day of camp, probably won’t skate again before the first round of cuts.
What to Expect Moving Forward
Sunday’s Red-White scrimmage, the highlight of the Caniac Carnival, will serve as one of the final evaluation points before the coaching staff begins to cobble together exhibition lineups.
“[Sunday] will be the final day to decide how we want to structure the exhibition games to give guys the opportunity to keep moving forward,” Muller said.
The scrimmage gets underway at 1 p.m. The Caniac Carnival runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. More information is available here.
Red Team Roster
White Team Roster