Sunday, August 24, 2014

Neely Cup: 2014-15 training camp

Day 1

First off, I like Brendon De Jong.  He's big: 6'4", and like most folks I fall in love with a D man built like that.  Looks like he's got good wheels, and keeps his head up in his own end reading the play.  Looked impressive to me, in a position of need.

Oliver Bjorkstrand is good at hockey.  Scored, toyed with people.

Was watching Nick Heid closely.  He's not as big as I'd like, but looked to be a smooth skater.

Blake Heinrich was also smaller than I'd hoped for.  Didn't notice him much.  5th round Capitals pick a year ago.

Schoenborn was flying around, and scored a goal.  There was a sequence where someone hit him hard, he got up and took a number, and gave it right back same shift.

Bittner was getting up and down the ice in a hurry.  Scored two goals:  a backhander and a snipe going in all alone.  There's first round NHL draft talk for him this year, and I'm with 'em.

Brendan Burke remembered to bring his glove hand back to town.

Predinchuk looked pretty good.  Several times I had to look up who "15 in grey" was.  Good wheels.

Trent Lofthouse looked like he's been around the block.  Trying to make his case for an overage spot.

Jack Flaman: he'd be a 17 this year.  He was making sure to hit people, and hit them hard.  He was extra noticeable, with red breezers & gloves.

Zach Patterson didn't look out of place.  If he doesn't make this team, and I don't think he does, I'd like to see him get a chance elsewhere.  He'll be an 18 this year, so its now or never.

Alex Overhardt started out rough: getting hit, missing passes, etc.  You could see him get more comfortable shift by shift by shift.  Looked to me to be strictly a set-up man, but ended up with a goal and an assist on the day.

Cody Glass is a guy that I was looking for, and didn't notice at first.  He's on the smaller side, but he's also a 15 this year.  He's the first fruit the opening round of the bantam draft bore for Portland since Nic Petan, so there's some expectations there.  He had some nice driving the net sequences.

Cole Guttman had a good day: 2 goals, and added a shootout goal to boot.  He's a 15 from Los Angles who was an 8th round bantam pick.  Little guy, good hands.

Evan Cusmano is an interesting player.  He's a 17 this year, and has one hell of a beard.  He's good and thick like you'd like a D man to be, which is nice.  I happened to overhear his life story while standing by his family, and he sounds to be a late bloomer of sorts: got stuck as a 4th line forward when he's a D man by trade - once they straightened that out he's playing "30 min a night" according to Mr Cusmano.  Could be a player.

Skyler McKenzie looked bigger to me, and a few people have said the same.  There was a sequence where he got hit hard, got up and hit the first 3 guys he could find.  Ended up with a real nice snipe from the slot and an assist.

It was nice to see the 16 year old version of Carter Czaikowski.  He was the 1st player the 'Hawks drafted that year, even if it was in the 6th round.   Smaller D man, seemed comfortable with the puck.  Looks like he's gonna wear #36 with the 'Hawks this year.

de Champlain had a pretty goal.  Fighting for an overage spot.

Chantz Petruic finished a nice tic-tac-toe sequence with a goal.  He's a 15 from Moose Jaw.

Cederholm looked kind of mean - decked some dude in the slot.  You can always use more of that.  He's also AHL eligible this year.

Josh Hanson was shooting the puck a little bit - could be a good sign of improved puckhandling.  he hit some kid pretty hard, too.

We've got a "Nasty" Mirasty in camp: Donovan Mirasty.  Been playing in Moose Jaw, scored a goal.  Didn't go crazy or anything.  No idea if he's related to Jon "Nasty" Mirasty.

Trace Elson scored on a 2 on 1 - as an overage candidate who Portland drafted in the bantam draft last time around.

Day 2

 Evan Weinger blocked a tough shot - look like it stung him a bit.  He's a 17 from LA playing with the JR Kings.

Blake Heinrich had a goal.  He didn't really stick out for me much, which probably isn't a big deal.  The season probably hinges on his play as much as anyone outside of Burke.  He was the captain of Sioux City in the USHL last year, so he's legit & a veteran.  This league is a step up, but not as big a difference as you might think.

Colton Veloso had a goal on a penalty shot early, and then scored to tie the game in the last minute.  Not bad.

Nick Heid looked more comfortable in day 2, which is good.  He got beat as the man back on a 2 on 1, in which the other guys scored.  We need a quality season out of him on the D corps to be successful as they want to be.  17 year old rookie.

Tyler Thompson is a big kid, been playing for Omaha.  You always notice the Omaha kids, as their gear is bright orange.  He was banging bodies, mostly in an attempt to get someone to fight him.  No luck there, but that's a role that needs filled.  He's a 17, who the 'Hawks listed.  Minnesota native.

Cole Guttman had another goal.  Makes you wonder what his 15 year is gonna look like - and beyond.

Shane Roulette scored a petty goal.  Could be a gamble betting on this kid.  Fortunately he's not a Russian.

Texeira was flying all weekend - he finished a 2 on 1 goal.  Sky's the limit with him.  This is his draft year.

Bittner was skating well all weekend, and answered a tying goal late with an even later winning goal.  We should see him for 2 more years (I think) - and he might wear out the twine on the nets here in town.

Bjorkstrand looked like he was at 50% effort, and still was toying with guys.  He even played defense, which I wouldn't bother if I was him in this format.  Kid is good.

Josh Hanson still looks better with the puck, but I might just really want that to be the case.  He takes a lot of heat locally, but I think he does everything well except when the puck is on his stick.  I'd like to think that's correctable, and I'm hoping he spent the summer in Alaska shooting pucks at the barn.  Or studying for the 4 or 5 years of school he's got coming post WHL.  Either one.

Connor Beebe had a pretty goal - he's a 15.  That's all I know.

Cody Glass had a decent weekend.  He picked up a goal on a rebound, and was in the slot quite often - which is a good sign.

Speaking of good sign:

Alex Overhardt continued to get better.  Had a snipe of a goal, drove the net a few times, and changed my mind about him being a pass-first guy.  I like it.  Recently signed 17 from Denver.  Natural center - which you can never have too many good centermen.

Speaking of Denver centerman - Turgeon seemed to be pretty physical, which is always good.

Schoenborn was flying all weekend - he picked Czaikowski's pocket and went all alone, only to be stopped on the shot.

Trent Lofthouse scored a nifty backhand goal on a penalty shot.  He wants to stay in the 'dub, and his play this weekend backed that up.

JJ Virtanen had a nice goal off a scramble.  I'm surprised a 17 with "Virtanen" on his sweater is still available. 

The real McKenzie scored a scramble goal, as well as hitting guys.  Building up for the 3rd day of camp.....

Lane Veviros scored the late game winning goal.  I'm not sold on him as a 19, but then again if he's one of the top 6 Austrian defenseman, he's about gotta be good enough for your WHL team, right?

Day 3

Back to Skyler McKenzie - took a hit from Cusmano, who broke his visor on the play.  From standing by the Cusmano's, I take it that he broke some sort of equipment every damn day, and they suspected that Peaches was getting sick of it.  They also felt that Peaches was really good & quick, and made it sound like the player was on the hook for things such as a new visor - which I found interesting.   I'd like to think that money is no object to the Portland Winterhawks, but I suppose everyone has a limit.

While "the beard" was between visors, it sure seemed like Heid was out there every other shift, which is great.  See what he's made of.

When Cusmano made it back on the ice, he made a nice home-run pass springing a guy, then blocked a shot in the same shift.  There might be bigger things in store for this guy.

In the quest for an overage spot, Trace Elson had a glorious chance in the slot, in which he shanked the shot.  Turgeon set him up perfectly.  Didn't help his chances there.

Tyson Predinchuk was making plenty of nice plays in his own zone.  Not sure where he fits in, but he needs a regular shift this year.

Shane Roulette had a great sequence where he blocked the defensemans shot just inside the blue line, and turned that into a breakaway goal.  This was late in the game, where it counts......

...Until the real McKenzie ties it up real late, which is exactly what you want your clutch players to do.  Score when it counts.

Next game: Czaikowski scored a nice goal from the blue line.  Gotta love it.

Evan Weinger drove the net hard, and later scored a goal.  He's a 17 from LA.  Keep him in mind.

I think Nick Heid scored a goal, but I never got confirmation.  He's the future of the back end.

McKenzie took a nasty stick to the face.  Stay tuned: it gets good.

"Nasty" Mirasty rode a dude out against the boards, and finished his check.  Just like its supposed to be done.

Reed Morrison, also a 16 - looks somewhat awkard for a kid his size (6'2") at that age.  Not unusual at this level, but you hope he finds himself soon.  Played some games at Christmas last season.

....When the real McKenzie got back on the ice, he was a wrecking ball.......

Jesse Nelson scored a nice scramble goal.

McKenzie finally found the dude that got his stick up:

When the real McKenzie got a hold of the other kid, he stood right in there and took a few punches in order to deliver a bunch of rights, over the top, in what was apparently his first fight.  Dude looked like he knew what he was doing.  For those who saw it live, you've gotta think that McKenzie is crossing into hero status right there.  Fans were really into it.

De Jong continued to look good, as a 16 D man.  Had a good first pass out of the zone, which is not measured by any fancy stat.

Lofthouse threw some nice hits, and set up a goal off the rush.  He wants an overage spot.  Later he buried a backhand goal off the rush.

Veloso threw a big hit on Overhardt, and kept hitting & hitting & hitting.  He wants a regular shift as an undersized 16.

Ollie Bjorkstrand is real good at hockey.

Keegan Iverson had a nasty snipe.  Good wheels all weekend, but didn't have results to show until now. 

Texeira continued to fly, and get rough with guys.   I love it.

Overhardt had a nice chance in front, and couldn't finish.  They'll start going in for him.

Zach Patterson can play.  He's an undersized D man in height, but he's broad like you'd like a D man to be.  He'll be an 18 this year - a signed player for Portland.  He had a fan club in camp: a couple of cute girls, of drinking age.  If he doesn't get a shot here, I'd hope he gets a shot somewhere.

De Jong took a guy into the boards - a 16 from Dallas - in a fairly innocent play.  The other kid had a real hard time getting off the ice, which sucks.   I watched to see how De Jong reacted - he scored a goal.

There was a sequence where Cederholm drove the net, and Veloso stayed back and covered - which is nice.

Ethan Price got stuffed on a penalty shot.  He's from Lincoln.  He's gonna destroy this league this year.  He laid a huge hit right infront of me later - cause that's what they do in the Star City.

Texeira continued to fly - set up an Iverson goal.  Keep it coming.....

Anyday seems like a good time to sign a good 15 goalie: