YELLOWKNIFE, NWT – Goaltenders continued to steal the show at Edmonton Oilers Rookie Camp in Yellowknife. Except this time instead of two of the netminders drawing blanks, all three denied the rookies’ offence in a 0-0 deadlock between Team Blue and Team White.
Instead of two 20-minute stop time periods, today the rookies played a single 30 minute period in front of a sellout crowd at the multiplex in Yellowknife. Another difference from yesterday’s scrimmage session was that the team skated on the larger Olympic-sized ice surface in order to accommodate the larger crowd.
Glenn Fisher was one of the three goaltenders to shut out their opponents on this day.
“It’s high intensity out there,” he said. “The guys are going hard and you need to continue to take that into main camp.”
Fisher didn’t allow any goals on Friday as well. Both himself and Bryan Pitton have stood on their head and made things difficult on the snake bitten Team Blue shooters.
“I don’t want to jinx it. It’s going well, we’re playing very good defensively. I didn’t get a lot of work yesterday and got more today.”
Oilers VP of Hockey Operations Kevin Prendergast has been impressed with the play of all three goaltenders through camp so far.
“We expected Devan to be good but have been really happy with Fish coming in here. Pitton has come in here in outstanding shape and looked very good,” he said.
Team Blue started things off well going on the attack but Team White was equal to the task, keeping them away from goaltender Bryan Pitton. Despite a lot of pressure deep in the zone, a lot of their shooting came from the perimeter and was blocked before reaching the net.
The crowd got fired up for the first time nearly midway through the 30-minute scrimmage session as Adam Huxley dropped the gloves with Theo Peckham
. The two traded about eight or nine heavy blows apiece before Huxley finally took down Peckham. The rookie defenceman Peckham was also cut open in the fight.
“Huxley is a mini-pit bull,” said Prendergast. “He wants to be a player and hopefully we can do something where we send him to Springfield from here and see what happens.”
The fight was Huxley’s second in two on-ice days at rookie camp and he has certainly caught the Oilers’ eye.
“I watched him last year in Stockton. He competes every night,” Prendergast continued. “He’s never going to score a lot of goals for you but he’s a middleweight who fights heavyweights. They’re hard to find. He’s ready and willing and did well against Peckham today who’s a pretty tough kid.
“There’s always room for that type of player. Coaches love them. “
With the 0-0 score, the lack of offence in the game didn’t concern Prendergast.
“It’s the second day of camp. Obviously it’s going to be tight where guys still haven’t found chemistry with each other,” he said, noting that there were a lot of positives.
“I thought the Goulet line with O’Marra looked pretty good out there. I thought Liam Reddox
did well,” Prendergast noted. “Cogliano started to show a couple of things today that we were happy with.”
At the 21-minute point, Bryan Young made his mark with the hit of the day as he sent Justin Chwedoruk flying into the boards with a solid hip check.
“The first-year pros coming in here are playing well – Bryan Young had a big hit,” Prendergast said. “A lot of guys are starting to figure it out. Colin McDonald stood out a little today, made some good plays. David Rohlfs same thing.”
One player who made his debut in scrimmage is 18-year-old Vitaly Karamnov. The Russian centre missed Friday’s scrimmage due to injury but didn’t look out of place today.
“I thought Karamnov, the Russian looked pretty good. He’s a pretty smart player,” Prendergast said.
The Oilers VP of Hockey Operations was also impressed by the play of the younger defencemen. With an eye to Springfield further down the road, he was encouraged by what he saw.
“We brought in a lot of 19 and 20 year old defencemen. I think guys like Matt Pepe, Nick Holden and Bretton Stamler have all played well here. What we’re looking at these guys for is what we’re going to look like in Springfield not this season but next season.”
With Sunday the final day of rookie camp in Yellowknife, it may finally be an opportunity for the offence to shine as players get more comfortable.
“It’s a big jump for these guys to come in here and get the nerves out. Tomorrow’s another day and they will start to separate a bit tomorrow.”