TEAM TAKES TO THE ICE
After a short flight from Edmonton to the Okanagan Valley, the Oilers began their second day of Rookie Camp by setting up shop at Prospera Place in Kelowna, BC.
Led by Oilers assistant coaches Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith, as well as the Oklahoma City Barons coaching staff, including Head Coach Todd Nelson, the players were introduced to a few team drills and systems during a lengthy practice.
For the practice, coaches paired up first round picks and World Juniors teammates Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall with center Milan Kytnar.
On the second line, Magnus Paajarvi played with Tyler Pitlick and Philippe Cornet, while Teemu Hartikainen, Ryan Martindale, and Cameron Abney formed another set of forwards.
Curtis Hamilton, Chris Vande Velde, and James Livingston skated together, as did Drew Czerwonka, Kristians Pelss, and Mike Thomas.
FEEL THE LOVE
While many of the rookies were playing together for the first time, Hall and Eberle share a strong history, friendship, and admiration for eachother's skills.
"It's really nice to get out and play with a player like Jordan -- he's not hard to play with at all," Hall said of his linemate. "He's very easy to read and makes great passes and great plays. If we could play together throughout this tournament, I think it would be great for us and more so for me."
Though Kytnar entered the mix only today, he was quick to compliment the high-profile duo.
"They're both really good players," Kytnar said. "They're guys that are young, good potential, have great hands, great skaters, and it's a real pleasure for me to play with them and I think we could be a good line."
FIRST TEST TOMORROW
The first test for the top line, as well as the Oilers rookie squad as a whole, comes Sunday afternoon. The Oilers face the Canucks rookies in the opening game of the Young Stars Tournament, and all players are eager for puck drop.
|Taylor Hall takes a spin around the ice during Day 2 of Oilers Rookie Camp at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C. |
"After I signed, I've just been waiting for this day to come, now I'm just all excited to get going. I just want to get out there and play," Paajarvi said.
"It's a very exciting time -- this is what I've been waiting for all summer," Hall echoed. "I haven't played an organized game in I don't know how long, since the Memorial Cup, so there's always a sense of excitement.
"I think I've taken the right amount of time off that I have that hunger and the passion for the game and I feel very ready for this season and I feel very excited for it."
With two rookie camps on his resume, Eberle says that the tournament format -- in which rookie squads from various teams test their skills against eachother -- is his favourite way to start the season.
"When we were in Camrose we played in a same kind of situation, played Calgary and Vancouver, and it just makes the games a lot more fun and it really brings the best out of guys," he explained.
"When you're playing against each other in intrasquad games, obviously guys are competing but you don't want to kill each other and your teammates, you're going to have to see each other after the game. When it comes to this, you can battle, and not only that but everyone wants to win, and that's the key thing."
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer