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Sioux teammates skate at Oilers camp

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Chorney has put up 73 points in three seasons with the University of North Dakota.

The first few days of Edmonton Oilers Development Camp involves a feeling-out process where the young Oilers hopefuls get to know one another as they get put through the paces by Oilers Skating & Skills Coach Steve Serdachny.

However, two of those prospects are very familiar with one another already, having played together each of the last two seasons at the University of North Dakota – defenceman Taylor Chorney and forward Chris Vande Velde.

Chorney’s first season with the Fighting Sioux at UND was 2005-06, one season after Sioux captain Matt Greene left the team following his third year to join the Edmonton Oilers. Chorney now faces that same dilemma.

“I would really like to become part of the organization as soon as I can. I'm just waiting for the circumstances to be right, waiting for everything to line up with the contract and everything. Hopefully it'll be done pretty soon,” Chorney remarked.

The decision for Chorney to actually come to camp was only made on Saturday. As the two sides got closer to a deal in contract negotiations, he decided to attend.

"There was some things that were going on before and it took a little longer for me than it did for most of the other guys to decide to come,” he noted. “I'm happy that I'm here now and happy to be part of this development camp for the rest of the week.”

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This past season was a memorable one in North Dakota. The team put together a string of 18 consecutive games without a loss (15-0-3) stretching from January 5 to March 14.

“It was awesome,” said Chorney of the 2007-08 season. “I was in a similar situation last summer, trying to decide what to do and I decided to go back to school. We set the school record for longest unbeaten streak. It was pretty neat to say I was a part of that team.”

It was particularly memorable considering Chorney’s father Marc suited up for the Sioux from 1978 through 1981.

“I grew up a Fighting Sioux fan my whole life and for me to be able to play a couple seasons there and get to know the people around the town of Grand Forks was a great experience.

“Everything I did up there was a positive experience. If I could spend another five years there I probably would. College is a fun time but it's probably best for me that I get everything squared away here, move on and start my career as a professional.”

Chris Vande Velde takes part in on-ice testing at Millennium Place on Sunday night. (photo: Dylan Lynch/Edmonton Oilers)
For Chorney, this is his second year at Development Camp but first with fellow Fighting Sioux teammate Chris Vande Velde.

“Having Vandy around is big. He's a good guy, I got to know him a lot this year. He's a good hockey player, too and I think he'll be a part of this organization down the road too.”

Vande Velde made huge strides at UND putting up career numbers with 15 goals and 32 points in 43 games to rank third on the team in his sophomore season.

“I played with more confidence and was put on better lines,” said Vande Velde of his success. “I was playing with TJ Oshie and Ryan Duncan who are elite players. That helped as well. I was playing with more confidence, got more points, scored more goals. It was a fun year. “

Vande Velde also played on the first power play unit and killed penalties as part of his added responsibilities. He had three goals and nine points in 38 games in his freshman season the year before.

“When Matt Watkins got hurt and I stepped in on the second line I really took advantage of it at the end of my freshman year. I carried that through to my sophomore year. “

Vande Velde played in the USHL in 2005-06 and had 16 goals and 36 points in 56 games for the Lincoln Stars. Current Oiler Sam Gagner also played in the USHL that season.

“When I was in Lincoln, (Gagner) was in Sioux City,” Vande Velde remarked. “He was a great player then and he’s a great player in the NHL too. “

Gagner scored 11 goals in 56 games with Lincoln rival, the Sioux City Musketeers – five less than Vande Velde.

“I can tell I’m not that far away, then,” the Oilers prospect stated. “It shows that if I work hard hopefully I’ll be up there soon.”

Vande Velde played against current Oiler Sam Gagner in the USHL in 2005-06. (photo: Dylan Lynch/Edmonton Oilers)
Vande Velde has enjoyed bonding with his potential future teammates at camp both in Edmonton and Sherwood Park.

"We got in and went right to the casino with a few guys," he remarked.

"It’s fun being at the rink with a lot of guys and seeing some new faces. It’s good competition, everyone’s working hard."

Taylor Chorney added that simply being in the city for an extended period of time has enormous benefits.

“Getting to know everybody and getting to know the town, I think that’s huge heading into training camp,” he said.

This past season Chorney was an Edmontonian at heart, getting caught up in the team's second-half run that saw them almost miraculously make the playoffs.

"I tried not to get too caught up in it because I had my own things, too. I had the NHL Network so I watched a lot of Edmonton games. The run they went on at the end of the year, almost making the playfofs was pretty special.

"I’m hoping down the road I get the opportunity to add to the tradition around here.
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