START PAINTING THAT CANVAS
There are three games, nearly 100 players, and about roughly 12 hours to cover in a full day.
Welcome to training camp, the most wonderful time of the year.
What’s appreciated is seeing the rapid progression and evolution of the developing human frame that’s suited to fit in major junior hockey equipment.
Connor Dewar’s bigger. Orrin Centazzo is bigger (and faster). Conrad Mitchell, signed but yet to play in a WHL game, looks as tall as a light post on skates (and he can move).
Ethan Browne, another Tips blue chipper, is more slick. Bajkov, Davis, and Fonteyne are up to their old tricks.
It’s enough progression to make any hockey centric mind salivate. Proof: the Tips typically bring in catered goods from Major League Pizza, El Paraiso, and Jersey Mike’s for the world class wrecking crew of hockey scouts. All the leftovers were cleaned out today by 11:30am.
Other observations that stuck out, from the moments where I could relax and lay eyes on the developing play:
- Browne, as mentioned above, never missed a tape-to-tape pass. He had one goal in the morning session that was a complete roof job, and his decision making off the rush (read: patience with the puck) resembled a savvy vet.
- This year’s first rounder, Ronan Seeley: also looking like a solid gem on the blueline, using his skating ability to deliver pucks out of his own zone in rapid fashion. Also chipped in with a goal that was deflected off traffic from the point. Some point to his skill foundation and mutter, “Kevin Davis.” That’s good.
- There were three plays by Centazzo that made me drop my jaw. First was a breakaway goal, backhand deke, executed from a high rate of speed off the rush. Then there was the thread-the-needle pass to Quinn Martin on a 2-on-1 goal, then there was a low snapper off the rush from the right circle. Centazzo is fully healed, and ready to go.
- Brendan Morrison (NHL vet, with plenty of stories to share) and son, Brayden (Tips prospect, in camp) are both extremely articulate. We’re putting this story and conversation into video form. Look for more soon.
Before shuffling off to Everett Memorial Stadium to get a tutorial from Dennis Williams and Mitch Love on how to appropriate throw a baseball (yours truly had a little league career high of 3-for-23 one season), I caught up with Connor Dewar.
He’s fresh off Toronto Maple Leafs development camp, too.
- MIKE BENTON: How was the summer?
CONNOR DEWAR: Very good, hung out with buddies and family. Spent a lot of time training.
- MB: How much more compared to years past?
CD: I took it more seriously I think. Going into camp with Toronto there were a few things I picked up and applied to how I’m training today.
- MB: How faster is the game in that environment?
CD: It was pretty fast, scrambled. Different game than what I’m used to.
- MB: How much did you understand what it takes to be on the right track to the pro level?
CD: Just that everything matters. You have to take care of yourself, work hard every day, and do something every day to get better.
- MB: What kind of goals have you set for this year, and how much weight have you put on?
CD: Just play one game at a time, and do the best I can. Officially I put on 5-6 pounds.
5a. MB: Is there really such thing as putting on too much weight (like 20 pounds)?
CD: I think so. It’s really hard for your body to move, and four months (of an offseason) is a really short time for your body to get adjusted to learning how to move again. It’s about pace, you have to be quick.
- MB: What makes you excited about this season?
CD: Change is always exciting. There’s more opportunity and a great chance to learn from someone else.
FYI: the Tips were at the AquaSox game spreading hockey (and, really, PNW) love. Both coaches delivered some solid tosses.
Reminder: training camp moves to the big ice inside XFINITY Arena on Friday. First matchup: a little past 8am.
Get your coffee ready.
Award winning broadcaster Mike Benton recently is entering his third season as radio play-by-play voice of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, and 13th in the game. Tweet at him here.