Although Oilers Prospect Camp is no walk in the park, the team’s future stars were pushed to the next level when Oilers prospects were introduced to military training at the Edmonton Garrison on Wednesday, July 9th for their team building and physical endurance exercises.
RILEY RAPPELS IN REVERSE
During the Rappel Drill, things didn't go quite as planned for Oilers prospect Riley Nash. As he made his first few strides down the big wall, he made a misstep and ended up suspended upside down.
"I didn't let any rope out, so I went end-over," chuckled Nash. "It was a lot of fun for sure."
When he flipped over, a number of the prospects in line for the drill rushed over to see their teammate as he was suspended head first from 30 metres high.
"I wasn't very scared, it felt very secure. Everyone started laughing - I knew I wasn't in too much trouble."
Overall, the entire military camp experience was a great one for the Consort, Alberta native who grew up in B.C. He will be attending his third year at Cornell this fall so Development Camp is his opportunity to acquaint himself with future teammates.
"It's been awesome," he said. "A lot of fun, meeting new guys, skills and drills - not too competitive."
The day at the base also gave Nash and his teammates some perspective when it comes to the day-to-day life of soldiers.
"It gives you a whole new respect for them," noted the Oilers 2007 first-round draft pick about the Canadian Forces. "You don't really understand what they do on a daily basis, you just kind of hear about it."
“The training is definitely tough, but it’s a great team builder and helps us to get to know each other better,” said Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle. “We did similar military training for Team Canada at Camp Petawawa.”
|Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle Rappels down the tower. (Photo by Andy Devlin, Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club) |
After the morning session at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park, the prospects were picked up in armoured vehicles to be transported to the Edmonton Garrison.
Once they arrived, the prospects suited up in full military gear minus the steel toed boots, running shoes did the trick, to participate in a variety of drills and activities.
"We introduced some scenarios to them that allowed them to understand that working together is a lot easier than one guy trying to do anything which was well noticed from the get-go," said Master Warrant Officer Steve Merry.
Rappelling a 30 metre wall was the most demanding and debatably the most terrifying task of the day. Racing through an outdoor obstacle course that simulates a combat situation was planned to kick-off the day; but due to heavy rain, plans changed and instead players took their turns in a simulated shooting practice exercise that resembled a giant video game. Other activities included medical and firemans’ carry drills and a parachute jump.
"It's definitely a new experience, I've never done this before," said Oilers prospect Jordan Benfeld. "It gives you a real appreciation for the military."
The Oilers have a longstanding relationship with the Canadian Forces in Edmonton. Last season the team celebrated Military Appreciation Night which gave Oilers Season Seat Holders the opportunity to forego their tickets to one game allowing local members of the Canadian Forces to attend the game. Hundreds of Oilers Season Seat Holders jumped at this opportunity to tip their hats in appreciation.
"There's been a great connection with the hockey club and the military for many years now," said Merry. "Mutual respect and mutual deeds back and forth with each other to do things for each other - and in the community - is outstanding."
The Oilers also hosted three members of the Canadian Forces on their charter flight to Washington, DC in January to participate in a military appreciation ceremony hosted by the US Army during their game versus the Capitals.