|Acadie-Bathurst Titan||Baie-Comeau Drakkar|
|Blainville-Boisbriand Armada||Cape Breton Screaming Eagles|
|Chicoutimi Sagueneens||Drummondville Voltigeurs|
|Gatineau Olympiques||Halifax Mooseheads|
|Moncton Wildcats||PEI Rocket|
|Quebec Remparts||Rimouski Oceanic|
|Rouyn-Noranda Huskies||Saint John Sea Dogs|
|Shawinigan Cataractes||Sherbrooke Phoenix|
|Val-d'Or Foreurs||Victoriaville Tigres|
|Brandon Wheat Kings|
|Edmonton Oil Kings|
|Medicine Hat Tigers|
|Moose Jaw Warriors|
|Prince Albert Raiders|
|Red Deer Rebels|
|Swift Current Broncos|
|Prince George Cougars|
May 22, 2012
Forget the fact that it was nine o’clock in the morning. On a Sunday. During the long weekend.
And it didn’t matter that it was 20 degrees and sunny outside, but brisk enough in the bleachers to require a sweater.
For the enthusiastic crowd gathered at Sportsworld Arena on Sunday morning for the final intrasquad camp of Spring Camp, none of that mattered. Prospects’ families and friends were joined by Rangers fans eager to see a new generation of players and the stands were buzzing as everyone shared their thoughts on the action. Even graduating captain Michael Catenacci was on hand, getting an up-close look from his post behind the bench.
After the game, the excitement continued for many as the players and their loved ones waited to meet with the coaches and scouts for feedback and advice. Among those gathered in the foyer was 2012 first-round pick Matt Schmalz, who at 6-foot-5 is used to standing out in the crowd. For him, the experience of Spring Camp was a positive one, an important learning experience in his young career.
“It was a good weekend,” the forward said with a grin. “It was nice to get out and play against some older guys, some 20-year olds. I have to start getting used to that.”
Returning player Stephen Midensky was also upbeat after a weekend of work. Often found with a smile on his face, he echoed Schmalz’s positive review. In fact, the blueliner, who joined the team as a free agent in December, was glad to be back at it.
“I actually like off-season training!” the smiling Midensky exclaimed, adding that he was impressed by how well the teams came together in such a short period of time.
After the final players had left the rink, General Manager and Head Coach Steve Spott said he was pleased with the way the weekend unfolded on the ice.
“It was good. You know it’s summer hockey, I think you’ve got to tame everyone because they want to see these kids in mid-season form, but some of them have been off the ice for a long time,” he noted, adding that the weekend is about more than the drills and tests.
“It’s more about the players learning our expectations and the meetings are probably a lot more important than the on-ice stuff. So it’s us getting to see them but at the same time, we remember that it is summer hockey and it’s more about the evaluations so the players know coming back to training camp what they need to work on.”
One player Coach Spott and the Rangers fans in the crowd had an eye on was rearguard Evan McEneny, who’s back on the ice after missing most of his sophomore season with an injury. Now back to full contact, McEneny’s efforts to return to top form seemed to be paying off, to the relief of his coach.
“He was one I was really interested in seeing, because he missed a whole year and we’re hoping he can be a top two or three guy for us. I was pleased with his progress – he took some nasty hits, which was good because he was able to get up, to survive those. And I think that’s good for him mentally as well.”