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Flyers' prospects enjoy their day at the beach

by Adam Kimelman /
STONE HARBOR, N.J. -- Just in case Mike Testwuide and Michael Banwell never pull on Flyers jerseys on a full-time basis, they at least know their names will permanently be inscribed on one wall of the team's weight room.
No, they didn't get in there with a can of spray paint -- it's the biggest reward from winning the Trial on the Isle, a mini-triathlon at the Jersey Shore town that is a part of the club's ongoing prospect camp.
The event consists of a 6-mile bike ride, a 1.5-mile kayak race through the town's back bays, and concludes with a 4.1-mile run along the beach.
This year's Trial was won by the team of All-Star center Jeff Carter; Testwuide, who signed his first professional contract in March; and Banwell, who is in camp on a tryout contract and will enter his senior season at the University of Maine in the fall.
"Right from the beginning I knew we had a solid squad," Testwuide told "It was really exciting. It was a lot of fun the whole way through. I kayaked. … Carter is a really good biker and we have the Kenyan runner over here, Michael Banwell. He's a really good runner, so I had to take up the slack with the kayak. I managed to do pretty good."
Banwell wasn't quite the "ringer" in the running event that Testwuide built him up to be, but the 6-foot-2, 190-pound defenseman did say he had a track background growing up in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Ont.
"I don't necessarily enjoy it," Banwell told "I used to run track pretty heavily. It's been something that has been somewhat of a talent. The one thing I like about it is there's a competitive aspect to it. It's all the responsibility on yourself, that's the one aspect I really like about the running portion of it."
While there are a few perks for finishing first -- a Flyers golf shirt and a gift certificate among them -- it's nothing to write home about. Seeing your name on that wall, though, is something else.
"The biggest thing is they get their name up in the weight room," Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin told "That will live for eternity. As long as we're around the names will be printed up there. I think it's cool because I was a past winner, and to go up there and see your name up there is pretty good."

After a late breakfast at a local restaurant, the players were the prime attraction of an autograph signing and charity auction. Some of the items up for bid included autographed sticks from current Flyers Carter, Ian Laperriere and Brian Boucher; Danny Briere-signed pucks; a game sheet from their historic Game 7 second-round victory against the Boston Bruins signed by Simon Gagne, who scored the game-winning goal; and a game sheet from the Flyers' Game 5 conference final win against the Montreal Canadiens signed by Carter, who scored a pair of goals in the 4-2 win, including the game-winner. Following the autograph session there was a softball game between the Flyers and a local team.

All money from the event goes to Flyers Charities, but a sizable amount is given to American Legion Post 331 in Stone Harbor. The Legion post then will give money to families of fallen veterans -- a cause especially close to McCrossin, a Stone Harbor native who organizes the Trial. In years past McCrossin has taken part in packing care packages for soldiers overseas, including former Flyers prospect Ben Stafford, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"Al Carusi, who's the commander of the post, makes sure (the money) gets to a family in need," McCrossin told "A loved one has been lost in Afghanistan or Iraq and the family is without an income. There's many families in need, and we're just doing our part to support our veterans."
The day in Stone Harbor clearly is one of McCrossin's favorite days of the year, and the players get to enjoy the hospitality of the fans and the town.
"They work hard at this conditioning camp," McCrossin said. "What we do is we bring our prospects in, we bring our AHL players in, and we work them hard, but there has to be some time to blow off some steam. And what better place to blow off some steam than the Jersey Shore, and my hometown, Stone Harbor? The people of Stone Harbor have been gracious enough, from the public works to the police department -- everybody welcomes us with open arms."
"What we do is we bring our prospects in, we bring our AHL players in, and we work them hard, but there has to be some time to blow off some steam. And what better place to blow off some steam than the Jersey Shore."                            -- Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin
Defenseman Kevin Marshall, a 2007 second-round pick, has discovered that good will first hand. This year's prospect camp and Trial on the Isle was his fourth. This year, he combined with 2010 sixth-round pick Nick Luukko and 2010 fourth-round pick Tye McGinn to finish in the top six. Marshall kayaked, McGinn rode the bike and Luukko -- who lost a game of rock/paper/scissors -- was the team's runner.
"It's pretty nice for us guys to come out on the beach," he told "All we see during the week is ice and a track to go work out. This is pretty fun because it's not too hard, it's fun to talk with people, the autograph session this afternoon is fun. A lot of people are going to show up. It's just fun to see the beach and relax a bit."
This is about the only bit of relaxation they'll get during the camp, which started July 5 and runs through July 12.
"Today is a day to blow off some steam, finish the event and meet the fans," McCrossin said. "Tomorrow we go back to work."
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