|Tyler Spurgeon (66) celebrates after scoring the first goal of the game Thursday, Sept. 25 vs. the Florida Panthers. (Photo by Andy Devlin/EOHC)
The Oilers were a cheery bunch Friday afternoon. With their first win of the pre-season behind them and two full days off on the horizon, the players were in no rush to clear the ice after practice, sharing lots of laughs and playing keep-away games well past their anticipated one-hour of ice time.
There were plenty of happy faces around the locker room, but one of the happiest belonged to rookie Tyler Spurgeon. Not only did the Edmonton-born centre score the unassisted opening goal in the Oilers’ 3-2 victory the night before, during Friday’s practice he learned that he topped the list of fittest players in Training Camp based on results from Day 1 fitness testing.
Spurgeon says he was surprised to be named the fittest player in Camp but adds that he has always worked hard to maintain conditioning in the off-season.
“It’s something I’ve always taken pride in over the summers is making sure I’m always getting in shape and coming prepared to camp, and I guess that went well this summer,” the 22-year-old says. “A lot of guys are in great shape and it doesn’t take anything away from anybody else’s efforts in the summer because they definitely came into camp ready. It just seemed to work out this way.”
After missing 68 games last season due to a serious concussion, Spurgeon eased himself into his off-season training – a strategy that paid off come Oilers Training Camp.
“I did just a lot of listening to my body. I wanted to make sure that I eased into it and started with small weights at the start of summer and then just worked my way up. And it seemed to come back pretty quick.”
“I was training out at Athlete’s Nation,” Spurgeon explains. “Fernando was there and Kyle Brodziak. We just did a lot of Olympic lifts and also just getting that conditioning up so that you’re ready to go with lots of power, lots of speed.”
Oilers Head Coach Craig MacTavish is impressed by Spurgeon’s off-season commitment and performance so far in Training Camp.
“He’s a hard working guy. There are some guys that don’t leave a stone unturned in terms of their preparation to get into the NHL or their preparation for training camp, and he’s obviously one of those guys. He thinks the game incredibly well and does literally everything in the game that he can.”
When praised for his individual accomplishment, Spurgeon is quick to turn the focus back on the results of Thursday’s game.“It was fun out there. It was good to be out with the guys and get in the mix and get some plays in and make some contributions to the team.”
Following Spurgeon on the list of Top 5 fittest Oilers players were Bryan Young, Jake Taylor, Ladislav Smid, and Guillaume Lefebvre.