by Lisa Brown on 08/06/11 at 10:13 PM ET
It’s a rainy, muggy morning in the City of Champions, and hockey fans were arriving long before the 9:30am start time to team white’s practice. The Oilers’ faithful, the friends the family, and general supporters of the nation’s favourite pass-time, are all in attendance.
The reason of course for the draw to a practise is likely to do the free sneak preview of Oiler’s prospects Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyler Bunz. Surely a name like Sean Couturier doesn’t exactly make fans shy away. To have this opportunity to see such high profile, top picked prospects is an excellent use of a Saturday morning in August, in the hockey crazed city of Edmonton, Alberta. Days like this, I truly feel like an Edmontonian, let alone a Canadian.
This morning is just a practice, the white team gets the early time slot, while team red with Oilers’ prospect Dillon Simpson will take to the ice shortly after.
Both teams went through a few shooting drills, all fast paced and showcasing how well some of the players have learned to play with one another. Tyler Bunz looks alert and agile, but that isn’t much of a surprise becuase Bunz prides himself on his athleticism, feels that it has gotten him this far. Clearly Bunz wants this starting job and after his last season with the Medicine Hat Tigers, that idea does not seem outside of the realm of possibilities.
The skating drills do not seem as complex and challenging as the ones I observed at Millenium place for the Oilers’ Development camp. Perhaps the drills are more complex than they seem from the stands, or perhaps it’s the fact that once again, there is so much to take in, in so little time. There are so many names that were recently drafted, you try to remember their numbers, and try to pick them out from their stride down the ice. Not every player is Dillon Simpson with his trademark dimples.
Between the Oilers’ prospects, the other top prospects and the local heroes, there was enough to make anyone’s head spin trying to keep your eye on anything in particular.
Some drills included the enjoyable, maybe more so for those in the seats, push-up punishment for those defensemen who could not hit the net after skating around two pylons and passing to their defensive partner. Few had to do push-ups, but it seemed to keep the atmosphere a little lighter than it may have been. This is after all game day, the Red and White game giving coaching staff and fans alike the opportunity to see the young stars in a game situation.
Drills turned to scrimmage as the practice ended. The goalies were quite audible with their reaction to missed shots, this just added to the light atmosphere and if nothing else put smiles on some of the faces in the stands.
Next up, the Red and White game and interviews from my very own version of hockey day in Canada.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
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