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Rookie camp kicks off as Jets prepare for Penticton

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG – Twenty-three players in blue and white, reporting for duty! Rookie camp – and by association, the 2015-16 season – is officially underway.

In preparation for this weekend’s Young Stars Classic in Penticton, British Columbia, the Winnipeg Jets prospects held court at MTS Iceplex earlier today, tuning their skills before tomorrow’s
opening game against the Calgary Flames.

Yes, sir. It’s hockey season.

“It was fun to get back out there,” Young Stars vet Josh Morrissey said. “It’s been a long summer for everyone and we’re all excited to get going. We’re looking forward to getting on that plane.

“For a lot of guys it’s their first game of the season and everyone wants to go out and show their best. The best way to go about it is to come out hard and get yourself into (the games) early, whether that’s making a hit or focusing on making good passes. It’s the first few games of the season so mistakes are going to happen, but with practice we’ll be able to iron them out.”

Morrissey split the 2014-15 campaign with the Prince Albert Raiders and Kelowna Rockets, winning the Western Hockey League championship with the latter. Now 20, the 6-foot-0, 176-pound defenceman is eager to make a good impression on both Jets and Manitoba Moose
management as he prepares to turn pro.

“I’ve improved a lot over the past year,” Morrissey said, adding that he’s come to camp in the best shape of his career.

“I feel great out there. Going back to junior I really wanted to focus on my defensive game below the ringette line. The other thing was focusing on my diet and my training, and I think I’ve come a long way, for sure.”

Nic Petan, also in his third year, saw similar gains over the off-season. The former Portland Winterhawk gained 10 pounds over the summer and is excited to begin his professional
career – whether it’s with the Jets or Moose – here in Winnipeg.

“Just work as hard as I can,” he said when asked about what he needed to do to eventually become a National Hockey League regular. “As a smaller guy that’s the main thing. The skill and the plays will show, but I’ve got to work hard and do my thing. The pressure is there (no matter what), but
going pro, I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

Petan was drafted by the Jets in the second round – 43rd overall – 2013.

While much of the talk surrounding the tournament this year revolves around Connor McDavid, the Jets aren’t backing down.

Ready for the challenge is one Nikolaj Ehlers.

“It’s going to be exciting and it’s going to be nice to get out there again and meet some of the new guys,” Ehlers said.

“To be honest, no matter what kind of camp it is, all the guys — including myself — are going to go out there and play our game. It’s not going to change a lot. We all want to show what we can do,
no matter if it was development camp or this one here.”

Faceoff between the Jets and Flames is 6:00pm CT tomorrow night. Following a practice day Saturday, the boys in blue will close out the 2015 Young Stars Classic with a back-to-back set against the Vancouver Canucks (Sunday at 4:00pm) and Edmonton Oilers (Monday at 1:30pm). Each game will be carried LIVE on and on the Jets Mobile App.

— Ryan Dittrick,

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