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Wingate, balance test offer challenges for prospects

by Adam Kimelman

BUFFALO -- The 2015 NHL Scouting Combine has a new look and a new location, but the Wingate bike test remains the one challenge most draft prospects anticipate the most.

The last test of the day, it's a 30-second all-out sprint on a stationary bike that measures a player's explosiveness.

It's not just the difficulty of the test, which includes trainers inches away yelling motivation. It's performing it in front of NHL strength coaches, scouts and general managers, as well as members of the media.

"It draws a lot of attention," said defenseman Ethan Bear of the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League. "It was pretty hard, especially when they're screaming at you."

Michael Spacek, a right wing with Pardubice in the Czech Republic, was the first player on the Wingate. He said he had tried the bike twice before coming here so he was prepared. The yelling, however, was something he wasn't quite ready for.

"For me the hardest test was the Wingate because it was on the end and it was the last part of the testing here," Spacek said through an interpreter. "I'm more reserved. I'm not used to people shouting like that. So that was different."

Performing at all eight stations with a large audience also is different then the usual offseason workout. As much of a physical test, it's a test of a prospect's focus.

"When I was on the rink I just focused on the practice and the tests," Spacek said.

One of the newer events, the Y-Balance test, was a challenge in a different way. Players stood on one foot on a small board and extended their other leg forward and then behind them to the left and right, similar to a skating stride. It measured and assessed body symmetry and can be used to identify prospects with greater risks for lower-body injuries.

"That Y test was pretty challenging," Bear said. "It was not bad, just totally different. But it was a lot of fun. Nice to try something new in front of a lot of people. I thought it was pretty good."


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