AT SATURDAY'S PRACTICE
PENTICTON, BC -- Following a 3-1 loss to Calgary to open the 2015 Young Stars Classic, the Winnipeg Jets prospects were back at work Saturday, with a practice that started with a fast pace, and only got quicker. Opposite of how yesterday’s game against Calgary started, according to defenceman Nelson Nogier.
“We had a slower start, not the start we would have wanted to have. But as the game went on we started to gel a little bit more,” Nogier said. “That showed today in practice. The lines were clicking and it was a fast pace. Hopefully that translates into tomorrow’s game.”
Coach Keith McCambridge wants his squad to play more aggressively against Vancouver on Sunday. Confidence goes a long way toward doing that, and having played in last year’s tournament, Nogier feels that confidence.
“Having that last year under my belt just leads to a little more experience and more confidence leading into the games this weekend,” said Nogier, who split last season between Saskatoon and Red Deer of the WHL. “It’s quite a bit faster. You’re starting with the WHL camps a couple weeks ago, you’re playing with 15, 16, and 17-year-olds. Then you come here and you’ve got 21, 22, and 23-year-olds. It’s definitely a lot faster and you don’t have as much time with the puck as you think you do.”
Forward Jimmy Lodge’s experience at the Young Stars Classic goes one year further than Nogier’s, even if he didn’t play the first time around.
“I came here for the first time a couple years ago when I was first drafted by the Jets. I didn’t play that tournament, I was injured, but I got to know the rink and all that from that year,” he said. “Even last year, I was more comfortable from that, to this year, this is the most comfortable I’ve been here.”
Speaking of comfort, McCambridge will start a goaltender he saw a lot of last season in St. John’s: Connor Hellebuyck.
“When you watch him, there’s not a lot of flash to his game, which in my opinion is a good thing for a goaltender. He makes things look easy,” McCambridge said. “Every time he was in the net he gave you a chance to win the game. On my side, from behind the bench, that’s all you can ask for as a coach. He’s a kid that comes to work every day. He’s really driven to get to the National Hockey League.”
McCambridge plans to play Hellebuyck the full 60 minutes against Vancouver, after the 22-year-old and Eric Comrie split the tournament opener. Other changes include forward Jiri Fronk and defenceman Brennan Serville coming into the lineup for Michael Spacek and Peter
Serville just needs to play a steady game on the blue line, says McCambridge. Even though the tournament makes that difficult.
“These games are really hard for defencemen because they’re so scrambly, because teams haven’t had a chance to put a lot of structure in,” McCambridge said. “Just try to keep things simple,
move pucks, and if he can add some offence, we’d like to see that also.”
Game time against Vancouver is 4:00pm CT at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
-- Mitchell Clinton, WinnipegJets.com