Welcome to 2007 Wild Prospects Camp, which is closed to the general public, but not to media bottom-feeders and web content writers.
Throughout the week, Wild.com will be providing some of the sights and sounds of the camp through our camp blog. We won’t be at every session, but enough to give you your fill on how the Wild stars of tomorrow are performing.
Practice was scheduled to start at 10:30 AM today, but a slow Zamboni, whose driver is still in mid-summer form, delayed the start. The youngsters look ready to go, however as they congregate on the benches.
The forwards are wearing the white practice jerseys, while the defensemen are wearing the greens. Always the outcasts, the three goaltenders have been given brick red sweaters.
One notable name marked absent was Ondrej Fiala, the club’s second round pick in 2006. Fiala is in the building, but he sat due to an unknown injury.
Wild assistants Mario Tremblay and Mike Ramsey have been put in charge of this week’s camp. They’ll be receiving assistance from new Houston Aeros head coach Kevin Constantine and goaltender coach, Bob Mason.
The morning practice consisted mostly of two-on-ones and three-on-oh's. Most of the guys are just trying to get into the flow and get passes on the tape. The skates appear to be moving, but it could be from the passes hitting them. Mario Tremblay makes mention of the errant passes as they disperse from a meeting around the whiteboard.
“Hit the tape!” he yells. “Not the skates! The tape!”
There have also been an inordinate number of spills on the ice in the early portion of practice. I will venture a guess that the ice conditions aren’t exactly reminiscent of a January night at the Xcel Energy Center.
Shawn Belle is here, one of the only players to have seen NHL experience. While still raw, this guys footwork and speed has never been questioned. During one drill, the defenseman has to stand flat-footed at the offside faceoff dot. A forward skates at full speed and picks up the puck at the redline, no more than 15 feet away. The defenseman has to skate backwards and try to keep up. Belle was the only player able to move quickly enough to stay with the forwards.
The practice was capped off by Riley Emmerson getting the group out of skating drills by firing a puck from the defensive zone faceoff dot into the empty net at the other end. The pressure was on with every player and coach huddled right near him. The big man has the range.
A fair amount of cameras and reporters were on hand to interview players after the morning skate. The first player to be surrounded was Petr Kalus, the top prospect acquired in exchange for Manny Fernandez. James Sheppard and Danny Irmen also dealt with their fair share of questions.
Even the newly-married Kevin Falness was on hand to ask questions of Sheppard and Cretin Derham Hall graduate, Chris Hickey.
You can find Falness’ musings by clicking here