Saturday, August 25, 2012

Training Camp Day 2

Chad Staley prepares to launch the medicine ball
during fitness testing

Day two of the Spruce Kings Training Camp was highlighted by the fitness testing at the Factory Hockey Training facility. The testing was based around what players went through at the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto featuring the beep test, medicine ball toss, lateral jump, pull ups and a mixture of other physical tests designed to measure the players overall strength and conditioning.

The standouts in the fitness testing included Jeremiah Luedtke who made it to level 13-4 in the very tough beep test. In this test the player has a measured length of time to go 20 meters. The time between beeps, when players have to reach the end of each length, is shorter as the test continues. The other big test was the 12 pound medicine ball test that saw Trevor Esau complete a toss of 42 feet, 7 inches.

In all the physical testing took over an hour to complete right in the middle of the day after the morning practice and the evening intra-squad game. An interesting comment I overheard from one of the scouts in attendance spoke to how the fitness testing is becoming an important part of the whole process because of the importance put on off-season training. Kinda makes hockey a year round sport.

Day two finished off with the second intra-squad game with Team White knowing they had to do something after dropping a 4-2 decision the night before. A good sized crowd for an unadvertised game was on hand and were treated to highly entertaining contest with lots of shots, scoring chances, hits and hard work on display.

The game started with Team White setting the tone and tempo for the rest of the night getting three early scoring chances off some hard work. Team Blue was able to weather the early storm and come up with a few chances of their own. Really the story of the first half of the game was the goaltenders who both posted scoreless opening periods. Jeremy Matte turned aside 10 shots for Team White while Adam Griffith stood tall stopping an even dozen for Team Blue.

Jeremy Matte making one of his 18 saves on the night

The scoreless tie was broken 1:34 into the second period when Cameron Lawson tapped in his second of the training camp off a nice setup from Lyndon Martell and Sean Landrey. Team White kept up their pressure and were rewarded shortly after with the first of two on the night from Jeremiah Luedtke. In the right place at the right time, Luedtke was able to tap a loose puck into the open side of the net before being checked. Spencer Schoech (pronounced shook) took the original shot that deflected off a defenceman's skate.

That would be it for the goal scoring on the starting goaltenders with Matte stopping 18 of 19 shots during his time in net for Team White and Griffith making 21 saves for Team Blue. Shortly after the goaltending change, Team White was given their third power play chance and used up only 15 seconds to setup the eventual game winning goal - Ryan Keis from Alec Butcher and David London.

Less than two minutes later, Team White doubled their lead with Riley Hawes scoring the goal with helpers going to Chad Staley and Jeremiah Luedtke. Hawes was a last minute addition to the game after another player was unable to go. One player's misfortune becomes another's opportunity! The teams went to the dressing rooms with Team White leading on the scoreboard 3-1 and the shot clock 27-22.

For the longest time it looked like that would be it for scoring as neither team seemed to be able to create good enough chances. That led to some spirited play and few more odd-man situations. With less than three minutes to play a couple of returning players got caught up together and Landrey ended up with the worst of it after flipping Kirk Thompson's stick out to the blue line.

Jeremiah Luedtke had a great game
finishing with two goals and an assist

Landrey was assessed a double minor giving Team White an opportunity to finish the game with the man advantage. Less than 20 seconds into the powerplay Luedtke was again found to be in the right spot at the right time and able to snap home his second of the game with helpers going to Skylar Pacheco and Brad Ryan. The final shots were extremely close with Team Blue getting to within one (33-32) but unable to get anything past Thompson.

With the intra-squad series now tied at a win a-piece and Team White with a slight edge in the goals for and against category (6-5), this sets up for an interesting tiebreaker Sunday afternoon at 1:30pm in the Coliseum. Prior to the game both teams will have one more practice, Team Blue at 9:00am and Team White at 10:30am.

Following the game will come the difficult decision of deciding who and really how many players will stay on for the exhibition season that gets underway on Tuesday. The Spruce Kings are playing four preseason tuneups starting with a double header against the Trail Smoke Eaters in Chase on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Following a day off, the Spruce Kings will play the first half of a home-and-home series in Grand Prairie against the Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. The lone home game in the preseason will go Saturday night in the Coliseum against the Storm.

No comments: