DEV CAMP: Team Blue victorious in Billy Moores Cup
Team Blue's shootout win in the final of the 2019 Billy Moores Cup caps off another Oilers Development Camp that prioritizes development and relationship building
EDMONTON, AB - Ryan McLeod's already infectious smile had a little bit extra to it as a two-time Billy Moores Cup champion.
"Unbelievable," McLeod, cheesing from cheek to cheek, said Thursday night of the feeling of winning for the second year running at the conclusion of Oilers Development Camp.
The final buzzer blew with Team Blue and Team White deadlocked at 4-4 in the final of the tournament's modified three-team, 3-on-3 format.
'Les Bleus' - featuring McLeod and 2019 second-round pick Raphael Lavoie - scored twice in the shootout, with goaltender Stuart Skinner shutting the door on every opportunity to help Team Blue claim the hardware in front of a packed Downtown Community Arena crowd.
"I think it was really good competition today and it was good intensity, so it was a lot of fun out there," McLeod said. "The first couple of days it's more just getting to know each other and working on skills, then we get to kind of put it into a real game or 3-on-3. It's a whole different thing and a lot more fun."
The centreman, selected last June at 40th overall in the second round by the Oilers, connected regularly with fellow second-rounder Lavoie as the pair found chemistry with their side lacking an extra body than their White and Orange counterparts.
"We didn't really have a strategy, and we were five guys and white was six, so the final was pretty hard because they were more rested," Lavoie said. "It was a tough game."
Team Orange's all-defence lineup that boasted the likes of first-round blueliners Philip Broberg and Evan Bouchard was unleashed offensively thanks to the tournament's modified format, but in the end couldn't crack the finals.
"Kind of, but we'll have to back it up next year," Broberg joked of his disappointment. "It's fun. We didn't have to defend. It was a good tournament and obviously we didn't win it, but it was a good week here."
The winners of this year's Billy Moores Cup will ultimately end up coming second to the relationships formed by the Oilers prospects and staff during the four-day camp that pulls together the organization's brightest young talent before the start of July.
Initial introductions are made on the ice, in the dressing room, and in the hours between skates with prospects like Bouchard and Broberg sharing a hotel room and future ambitions as pillars on the Oilers blueline in years to come.
"It was funny. He's a great guy and a funny guy to be with," Bouchard said of his Swedish roommate.
"I think right now it's getting to know the other prospects, guys like Philip, just seeing where they're at and kind of enjoying the whole process and learning from this to be ready for camp."
Often competing head to head with their peers during a long regular season, whether in the Canadian Hockey League, the NCAA, or Europe's many leagues and international tournaments, Development Camp is a chance to get to know the competitor that you now share an NHL organization with.
McLeod, Bouchard and Dmitri Samorukov were fierce playoff rivals during the OHL playoffs. At Development Camp, they're future teammates and friends.
"When you're on the ice against them in a real game, you aren't too good friends with them," McLeod said. "It's nice to see them off the ice and see what they're like and get a chance to play with them."
Whether it was their first Development camp or their fourth, each prospect now approaches a formative off-season with a platform to build off with the intention of growing their game further than the season before.
"It was a great week. It's a fun time here in Edmonton. You see the facility and all that and the other prospects, so it's been a good time."
Michael Kesselring, Skyler Brind'amour, Cameron Hebig, Matej Blumel, x - Taylor Ward, Graham McPhee, Dylan Wells
Nolan Vesey, Tomas Mazura, Raphael Lavoie, Ryan McLeod, Patrik Siikanen, Stuart Skinner
Philip Broberg, x - Leon Huttl, Matthew Cairns, Evan Bouchard, Phil Kemp, Olivier Rodrigue