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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Camp Thoughts, Round 2

Couple more random thoughts from the camp scrimmage last night. Again in no particular order.

- Teams were paired down to just Team Blue and Team Grey last night with roughly 50 players left.

- Connor Honey was playing with Lockhart and Noebels last night. I'm not so sure he is a "lock" to make the team like the Anonymous comment indicated but I think there are some strong indications that he might be here to stay.

- Stefan Burzan suffered an injury at some point Sunday and sat out last night. I didn't see anything happen to him, did anyone else?

- Taylor Green is still listed as injured but there are indications that he is close to skating and playing.

- The Troock, Rouse, Alos line had a particularly good game with Troock getting two goals and Rouse getting one on the night.

- Kevin Wolf was back one day after taking a hit to the knee and being helped off. Good to see that he is ok. He looks to be a keeper for a 15 year old and should have a decent chance to make the team next year.

- Not much else stood out. I got the feeling that the legs are starting to get a little bit tired and most of the players didn't quite have the jump and focus they might have had in the first few days.


Camp Thoughts, Round 1

Some camp thoughts after the first round of scrimmages yesterday. These are in no particular order, I'm just going to work my way through the sheet of lines.

- The line of Branden Troock, Andrew Taverner and Michael Holub was really clicking during their two scrimmages. Holub wasn't nearly as physical as he was during rookie camp and I would love to see him get back to running around smashing people but the line itself seemed to have some great chemistry.

- Saw a couple of decent shifts out of Igor Stakic.

- I'm still not entirely sure that Erik Fleming makes this team but his goal yesterday was a thing of beauty over the shoulder of Rebaliati.

- Shea Theodore is no worse than your 2nd best PP defender. His skill is far beyond where a 16 year old's should be and I can't believe we got him in the 3rd round. Great pick.

- Our first rounder in that draft also looks pretty good. Hauf has a really long reach and uses his stick well to defend. He is going to need more time to refine his offensive game but he could be a pretty decent defender right away for the club.

- Zach Douglas had a few good moments and a few not so great moments. I think he is very much on the fence to make the squad, but I liked some of his offensive game.

- Nolan Kruizenga actually looked pretty decent in net and I liked what I saw... with the exception of not getting his skate guards off before coming out for his second game. Rookies... (shaking my head)

- Stefan Burzan looks like he might be a keeper. I liked the speed that he flashed on a few rushes and he has decent size.

- Dylan Gambrell is another invite/list player who probably never plays for the Birds but he sure seemed to be around the puck a LOT.

- Sutter had moments where he flashed some serious skill and then moments where he turned the puck over and looked horrible and sometimes they came within the same play.

- Daniel Cotton was decent but needed the post twice to keep the puck out of the net. I need to see more to be convinced that he could back up Pickard.

- I really don't have any idea where Connor Honey came from but I kind of liked what I saw out of him. Flashed some speed and make a really nice pass for an assist. The problem is... this team just has a ton of forwards and I can't see how he makes the team but I'm most definitely intrigued.

- Carter Folk and Hauf had a nice little exchange of hits/incidents.

- Austin Frank looks like he has improved enough that I'm pretty comfortable with him fitting in at the back end of the defensive rotation.

- Carter Struthers is an 18 year old from Weyburn who looks to be headed to Penticton to play with the Vees but he has very good size and has looked pretty capable on defense. With the shortage of defenders... I really wouldn't mind seeing him playing for the Birds.

- Reid Fritzke was drafted in the 8th round and Austin Douglas was drafted in the 2nd round. What what I have seen so far Fritzke is solidly better than Douglas. I'm not sure how these things happen. The only thing I can think of is that Douglas is hurt, because he isn't playing with any kind of urgency or purpose.

- Ryan Gropp was noticeably absent from Main Camp. I've heard several theories but i would prefer not to speculate at this moment. Let's just call it "strange" that Gropp played so well in rookie camp and wasn't around for the first Main scrimmage.

- Taylor Green was listed in the pairings for Team Grey but did not skate. Hopefully we will see him today or tomorrow.

I'm getting into this Twitter thing so if you want quicker updates, give me a follow @TylerHunnex.


Rookie Camp Rosters

Here are the rosters this morning for the opening Rookie Camp skate.

Taylor Green is out with an injury and likely won't skate until main camp.

Team Grey:

Forwards -

Matthew Rypien (16)
John Edwardh (16)
Michael Holub (15)
Monty Chisholm (15)
Nic Rasovic (15)
Michael Cardinal (15)
Braeden Cross (15)
Brad Lalievre (16)
Igor Stakic (15)
Jordan Ross (15)
Daniel Wray (16)

Defense -

Mark Nelson (15)
Shea Theodore (16)
Matthew Doyle (15)
Jerret Smith (16)
Kale Little (15)
Austin Douglas (15)
Brenden Ross (15)

Goalies -

Brad Rebagliati (16)
Nolan Kruizenga (15)

Team Blue:

Forwards -

Ryan Gropp (15)
Andrew Taverner (16)
Josh Murphy (15)
Carter Folk (15)
Dylan Gambrell (15)
Keanu Jarvis (15)
John Ryskamp (16)
Josh Padilla-Proudfoot (15)
Dylan Houston (15)
Colton Kerfoot (15)
Michael Buchamer (15)

Defense -

Jared Hauf (16)
Daniel Burgess (15)
Reid Fritzke (15)
Zach Douglas (16)
Kevin Wolf (15)
Jake Fricks (15)

Goalies -

Justin Myles (16)
Danny Mumaugh (15)


Who I'm Watching....

Rookie Camp starts on Thursday with Main Camp following on Sunday through Tuesday. Some of the players in camp won't really be worth watching that closely as I'm not really concerned about their place on the team or their performance.

I won't really be paying a lot of extra attention to Calvin Pickard or Burke Gallimore or some of the other veterans.

Here is who I will be paying a little extra attention to...

Branden Troock: I'm not too concerned about how Troock plays as much as I will be waiting to see if he skates at all. His talent is there but his health has not been. If he is healthy I expect to see good things.

Daniel Cotton: Can Cotton fill the backup goaltending role this season? The backup to Pickard won't really have a ton of opportunities to play but he will need to prove himself capable in order for Seattle to feel comfortable trading Michael Salmon. Also worth watching will be Justin Myles who is 16 and could potentially be kept as the backup.

Chance Lund: Just kidding. I won't even bother until the first regular season game.

Jacob Doty: Has the skating improved? I think I can safely say that every single Tbird fan is rooting for Doty's improvement.

Mitch Elliot: Time to fish or cut bait... or just start punching the shit out of people.

Tyler Alos: Bounceback?

Connor Sanvido: Maybe this is the fresh start he needs to impress a new coaching staff.

Ryan Gropp: The annual anticipation in viewing your first round bantam pick live and up close.

Kyle Verdino and Cason Machacek: These two are absolutely critical to Seattle having any kind of success this season. Machacek especially needs to be a shut down defender and Verdino needs to be decent enough defensively to get by and be the veteran puck mover from the defensive zone.

Dave Sutter: I will repeat that if Sutter had a very good summer working on his skating I really believe he could be the biggest surprise of the season.

Austin Frank: Is he ready for top 5 status?

Evan Wardley and John Dora: Will Dora show up at camp and will Wardley be ready to make the team and play.

Taylor Green: Green has a shot to make the team and has evidently put on 20 pounds over the summer. The biggest battle in camp is going to be the fight for the back end of the defensive roster.

Coach K and Darren Rumble: Yup... I got my eye on you guys. I have every reason to think that both of them are going to be excellent coaches and no matter what your stance was on the firing of Rob Sumner, the freshness of a new regime and a new approach is going to be exciting.


Training Camp Preview

Let’s get the party started. We have about 7 or 8 days before rookie camp begins, about 11 days before training camp starts, and less than two weeks from scrimmages. It’s time to fire this puppy up and start talking some hockey. I kept waiting for summer in Seattle to start and before I knew it… it was time for hockey again.
I’m going to do my best to patch together what the roster might look like at this point. Obviously there are going to be some surprises and there might even be a few mystery players that will show up at training camp who may or may not wind up on the roster.

Let’s start with the boys between the pipes.

Goaltenders – Calvin Pickard (19), Micheal Salmon (19), Matt Gibney? (18), Daniel Cotton (17), Justin Myles (16), Brad Rebagliati? (16), Nolan Kruizenga (15).

Pickard will be back for what will likely be his final season in Seattle. Picks seemed a bit rattled by not making Team Canada last winter and struggled in his return posting only a 4.16 GAA and .898 save % in the month of January before rebounding strong and finishing with a solid 3.13 and .913 in 8 games in March. He is the consummate professional, leader and competitor and I would expect nothing less than the finest season of his WHL career this year. I predict that Salmon likely won’t play for Seattle this season. I doubt that Seattle wants to carry him for another season as a 19 year old backup and I have to imagine that Salmon wants an opportunity to play somewhere. Either way, I’m betting that Salmon doesn’t break camp with the Birds. Gibney was at one time in camp with the Chilliwack (er..) Victoria Royals camp but I have no idea whether he will actually be in camp with the Birds. The backup job is probably Daniel Cotton’s to lose… and Seattle has draft pick Myles and listed player Rebagliati who might be in camp to push him. Expect Kruizenga to be in rookie camp.

Forwards – Burke Gallimore (20), Marcel Noebels (19), Luck Lockhart (19), Brendan Rouse (19), Chance Lund (19), Colin Jacobs (18), Jacob Doty (18), Mitch Elliot (18), Tyler Alos (18), Connor Sanvido (18), Justin Hickman (17), Branden Troock (17), Jetlan Houcher (17), Jayson Ness (17), Kyle Horsman (17), Stefan Burzan (17), James Neil (16), Daniel Wray (16), John Edwardh (16), Brad Lelievre (16), Ryan Gropp (15), Michal Holub (15), Carter Folk (15), Jordan Ross (15).

Gallimore, Noebels, Lockhart and Jacobs are expected to lead what “should” be an improved offensive attack. The “eye-ball” test for the Birds tells me that they are now much older than they have been in the past. There are a lot of 18 - 19 year olds on this roster now. Gallimore had a career high 70 points last season with 34 goals. I actually expect his goal total to rise and 40 goals should not be out of the question. The assists were a bit of a surprise and something around 30-35 should be a solid repeat for him and Seattle will need him to improve upon his -26 mark. Noebels returns for his sophomore season after a wonderful 54 point rookie campaign. Noebels flirted with the idea of staying in Germany but was likely told by Philadelphia to return to Seattle. 65-70 points are not out of the question for Noebels who possesses excellent vision and an above average hard and accurate shot. Lockhart and Jacobs both have the potential to be breakout scoring stars for Seattle. Lockhart started hot last year and wore down a little bit towards the end of the season. He will need to stay healthy and strong to improve on his 48 points and I’m not sure anyone on the team works harder than Luke. Jacobs was once considered possibly the best American player in his age group and perhaps being taken in the 4th round by Buffalo will place a very giant chip on his shoulder going into the season. Jacobs has loads of natural talent and if his speed and skating are improved over the summer… he is the type of player who could go from 44 points to 90 points… but he won’t do that until he learns to use his size to get to the net and pick up additional “dirty” points down low.

Rouse, Lund, Doty, Elliot, Alos, Sanvido, Burzan and Hickman all have something to prove this season to different degrees. Rouse is a good, solid, responsible defender. Lund and Elliot are too nice and need to play with an edge to make a bigger impact. Doty is a real diamond in the rough and if his skating ever improves he may have to trade fighting for scoring goals. Alos had a tough season after his 17 point rookie season but should bounce back with a better year. Sanvido might be on his last chance and needs to show something in camp. Hickman showed flashes last year and if given some additional minutes could give the team a really nice energy/checking guy on the 3rd line.

Ok ok… I’ve waited long enough… let’s talk about Troock. I have no idea what is going on with Troock. I really don’t. I think he has 40 point ability right out of the gate if he is healthy but that is a big question mark. If he is healthy and participates fully in training camp, we might have something. If he sits out part of training camp, we might be in for another lost year while he recovers from whatever has been ailing him.

For Houcher, Ness and Horsman this is probably their last real chance to make an impression and having a new coaching staff will help them get a clean slate. Neil and the rest of the 16 year old forwards will probably be fighting for one (maybe two) spots on the team as 16 year olds. Gropp and the 15’s will enjoy a wonderful time at rookie camp with a couple staying for main camp before making their way back home to prepare for their seasons.

One final side note on Alex Kerfoot (17). Kerfoot lit up the BCMMHL last season to the tune of 108 points in 38 games and at one point it was believed that he might come to Seattle for this season. I want to stress that this is a rumor… but the latest rumor I heard was that he would not report to Seattle and wanted to keep open the possibility of going the NCAA route. So while I don’t expect him to be in camp… you never know.

Defensemen – Kyle Verdino (20), Cason Machacek (20), Ryan Button (20), Dave Sutter (19), Erik Fleming (19), Austin Frank (18), Evan Wardley (17), John Dora (17) Jared Hauf (16), Taylor Green (16), Shea Theodore (16), Zach Douglas (16), Austin Douglas (15), Reid Fritzke (15), Mark Nelson (15).

Verdino and Machacek will most likely be your 20 year old defenders. I have listed Ryan Button here (and it would be great to have him) but I do not expect him back in Seattle this year. Machacek and Verdino are both physical stay at home guys who are willing to fight a little bit and should not be counted on to score much. Sutter came to the Tbirds last season as a very raw hockey player and struggled to use his 6’5” frame. By the end of the season I saw a very different player, his skating improved to the point where he was able to physically hit people and he even got into one scrap that he dominated. I’m not exactly sure where to place my realistic expectations for Sutter going into the season but I do expect him to be better than last season. Fleming saw his minutes decrease dramatically and quite honestly I’m not sure if the former 1st round pick will even make the team this year. He looked completely lost last year and maybe a new coaching staff can re-boot his programming and help him find his game again. If he doesn’t, it might be the end of the road for him. By the time Frank started playing regularly in February I was actually pleasantly surprised at what I saw. He is still very raw but he might be able to carve out some minutes in the 3rd pairing this year. Wardley probably has a good chance at making this team. He didn’t make it last year but he has been in camp for the past 3 seasons. I have heard that Dora might be coming to camp but I’m not sure on him yet. Hauf and Theodore are almost a lock to make the team. Theodore will likely see time on the Power Play immediately and even though Hauf is still a bit raw he should get regular minutes. Green might need another year before he is ready as he looked very unsure of himself last year when he played. If he has improved a bunch over the summer we might see three 16 year old defenders on the team this year. I don’t really have any idea on Douglas and the 15’s will have a nice time in rookie camp.

Doing the quick math, that only leaves me with 6 “sure-thing” defenders. Which means Fleming, Wardley, Dora or Green might be fighting for about two spots.

Erik Bonsor chose to not come back for his 20 year old season and Mitch Spooner announced on his twitter that he was released by the Tbirds and appeared headed to Portland camp.

Despite the trades for Verdino and Machacek the Tbirds appear to still be woefully short on defenders for the upcoming season. I expect that one or a couple of the forwards they have will be dealt for more defensive help. If Troock is healthy it would go a long ways towards making a few of the forwards tradable assets. I will be tweeting from Training Camp when I can get down there. My softball team won a State Championship this past weekend and will be at Regionals next weekend, but I will make it down there when I can to provide some observations.


Twitter, The Final Frontier

I have a Twitter.

I really didn't think I would ever need a Twitter account but with my lack of full blown articles last season I'm starting to realize the benefit of being able to blast out short, quick thouhts about the team. So... we're going to give this a try this season and it will allow me to keep things updated if/when I don't find the time for full blown articles.

Follow me @TylerHunnex, pretty easy to remember.

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