Anders Lee said he had butterflies in his stomach, Derick Brassard called it the hardest training camp practice of his career and Brock Nelson described how anxious the locker room felt prior to taking the ice.
Even for seasoned veterans, the first day of training camp is a shock to the system - Cal Clutterbuck's words - as players endure the gruesome welcome back and share a palpable relief upon completion.
"You could know every drill and cheat every drill and still suck out there," Cizikas said. "That was a good test. They put us through the wringer trying to get us into that practice and that game form. Guys battled and it was good to see. Today was the ideal day of you go out there and work your hardest. You just try to get through that initial wave of exhaustion. That's what they want to see how far you'll push yourself."
The Islanders training camp roster was split up into three groups (A, B, and C) with a mix of veterans and prospects. Group A took the ice at Northwell Health Ice Center beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning. The last group, Group C, wrapped up their session at 2:00 p.m. The groups may change throughout camp and will rotate through the early and late ice times.
Video: Isles Training Camp 2019: They're Back
While the majority of players generally knew what to expect from their second taste of what Head Coach Barry Trotz and his staff had prepared for them, the end product was still a sobering and brutal reminder of the necessary means to return to game-shape.
"One of the first foundations is getting to work and compete for any organization and any individual," Trotz explained. "The guys have done a wonderful job of getting themselves prepared for camp, they're in great shape. They've trained hard. They've skated. They have a lot of details, but those game skills, those battle skills [are missing]. I tell them straight up, 'This is about getting that mentality back.' That's the idea of getting some of that summer rust off and getting that Islander mentality of 'We're coming after you, we're staying on you, we're hard to play against.' We'll get into all of the systematic stuff tomorrow."
Friday's practice was a physical one - full-rink sprints, physical one-on-one drills, gritty battles around the net, and countless pushups ruled the day - but a crucial component of training camp is establishing the camaraderie among veterans, to newcomers and everyone in between. That was also evident on day one.
"You're back on the ice with all of the guys and trying to push each other," Cizikas said. "When you see a guy who is kind of down and tired you're like, 'Come on. Just one more. Just one more.' You're keep pushing each other. That's what I like about this group and that's what I like about these guys; everyone is pushing each other. Everyone feeds off of one another."
Mitch Vande Sompel left the ice after a collision with Casey Cizikas and did not return. Trotz did not have an update on Vande Sompel's injury, but noted that he was 'doubtful' Vande Sompel would return tomorrow.
Simon Holmstrom (day to day, lower body), Bode Wilde (ankle) and Bobo Carpenter (shoulder) did not skate on Friday. Trotz noted that Holmstrom, the Isles' 2019 first-round pick, may join the group on-ice Saturday. Wilde is still considered day-to-day with an ankle sprain. Carpenter will not participate in training camp as he is still recovering from shoulder surgery that took place over the summer.
Call Clutterbuck, who underwent successful back surgery over the summer, was a full participant on Friday.