After months away from the ice, hockey was officially back at the Saveology.com Iceplex and it was the future that kicked things off as the Panthers prospects hit the ice for the start of Prospects Camp. The team’s younger players took action and showed their skills at the JetBlue Training Facility, ultimately aiming for a spot on the opening night roster.
“It’s really good to see them playing out here,” said San Antonio coach Peter Horachek who will lead the young players in their three-day Prospect Tournament starting on Friday against Nashville. “These guys—they’re enthusiastic, they play at a pretty good pace, and there’s some really good size out there.”
Although the Panthers are being cautious with 2013 second overall pick Aleksander Barkov, he was on the ice at today’s practice. Barkov may not be playing in this weekend’s prospect tournament, but the 6-foot-3 center certainly showed his talent and strong left-handed shot in the first official session.
Other notable players during rookie camp included Quinton Howden who scored on a couple of nice shootout moves, and the Ontario Hockey League’s Most Outstanding Player Vincent Trocheck. Coming off a great season split between the Saginaw Spirit and Plymouth Whalers, Trocheck showed a lot of promise to be a dominating force on offense. Totaling 109 points last season in the OHL, including hitting the 50 goal plateau (50-59-109), Trocheck also received the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s top scorer. That was something he reflected on when asked by the media about it but it was just a step for the first year pro.
“It was an honor to say I scored 50 goals,” said Trocheck.
There is a huge opportunity for him this season, so he has been working during the off-season to get to the next level of play, and prove himself during this upcoming tournament.
“I love the off-season. I’m one of those guys that loves to be at the gym,” said Trocheck. “I love to go home and work on things.”
Also in camp was Alex Gudbranson. Panthers fans will easily recognize the last name. The younger brother of Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson, Alex was asked to attend rookie camp on a tryout, and said that whether or not his brother was on the team, he couldn’t turn down an offer from the NHL.
“He’s Erik and I’m Alex, we’re two different guys,” said the younger Gudbranson, “I’m hoping they’ll be able to see that.”
An hour-and-a-half long practice wrapped up with a shootout before the team. Friday, they’ll start round-robin play against the Predators (6pm) before taking on Boston (4pm, Saturday) and Tampa Bay (4pm, Sunday).