Prospect camp has been more popular than I expected this year, both from a crowd prospective, and a traffic to the blog perspective. A huge source of refers in the past day has been, oddly, a Finnish message board that I cannot read a word of. But thanks for visiting, Finland.
Here's a shot of the spectators who came out today.
It was a good day to come because it was the highest level of play yet. It seems like the players have worked out their jitters, understand the drills, and is are hitting their stride.
The hot weather brought another afternoon thunderstorm, which could be heard loudly through the roof. Speaking of the weather, some reactions by first-timers to the oppressive heat in Atlanta:
Zach Redmond, from Michigan: "It takes a little bit of getting used to, it's not too bad."
John Albert, from Ohio: "Oh it's a killer out there. I was dying in warmups yesterday and we were only outside for about five minutes. I was just drenched in sweat."
Paul Postma, from Alberta: "Oh man, it feels like Mexico."
Back to more serious topics for a moment. Coach John Anderson got a little upset with the campers for not doing a drill correctly, and broke out some curse words. It was kind of an odd forechecking drill so I can't blame them too much.
Blue won the 4-on-4 scrimmage 6-2. In the shootout that followed came the funniest moment of camp so far. Tough guy Myles Stoesz missed picking up the puck at center, which immediately brought jeers from the bench, but he stepped in and buried a wrister on Carrozzi high. He skated towards the bench motioning for a reaction, and then made a guzzling gesture. Lots of laughs there, and he certainly made up for missing the puck.
Chad Denny made a diving defensive move in the scrimmage, but backing the tape up a bit, he got into that position because at the other end, he took a big windup and shot right into a guy's shinpads, who then took off with the puck.
I chatted with Rylan Kaip for a few minutes afterwards. He got to camp a day late because he got married on Saturday back in Saskatchewan. Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils, who Kaip played with at North Dakota, was his best man. About 8 or 9 teammates came out. Being from a small town, the couple invited pretty much the whole town and had 450 guests. His wife let him keep the goatee for the wedding. "She's a pretty good sport," he said. I remarked on North Dakota's early use of this year's playoff sensation, the mustache, which the Wolves later employed with success. "Yeah, we had them first, but they put them to use for a longer time." Good point by him.
The 24-year-old Kaip had been rooming with Danick Paquette, but he left early. Kaip now has a single. "Michelle said if someone's got to have a room to themselves, might as well be the old married guy," he laughed.
I asked Paul Postma if his bright blond hair is all natural. He said it is, but that in the playoffs last year for Calgary the team bleached their hair, so he bleached his too. "When I came to the rink, they said 'you didn't actually dye it, did you?' I did!" He claims to have died it back to natural since then.
Postma is rooming with Jonas Enlund, who is not so good with English yet. Redmond is rooming with Mike Forney.
Derek Nesbitt, former Gladiator who is newly signed with the Phoenix Coyotes, was in attendance. Yesterday he was sitting up in the Breakaway Grill and today he was over by the Zamboni door with Al Blevins.
Some photos from today.
Will O'Neill. He's very smooth with the puck, no panic. Good D today, including on Esposito. Note the bright mouthguard tucked into his glove.
Spencer Machacek making a face. He's so strong on the puck.
Nicklas Lucenius. He did a lot of tricky things with the puck in warmup, but that was it. Seems very choppy in his motions and doesn't always move his feet during play.
Asst. coach Steve Weeks worked with Carrozzi and Ryan Daniels.
Wolves goaltending coach Wendall Young worked with Wylie Rogers and Dan Rosen.