Hi, Snakes fans! It was so exciting down at the Ice Rink this morning. Wish you could've been there.
A number of diehard Snakes fans came out for day 1 of training camp. A number of them I already knew, like my friend Joe Simmons, Crystal Kelley, Stephanie Steed and Toni Rae. So many others I see each year at camp, so their faces are familiar even if I can't remember all of their names. It was nice to meet Tim Smallwood, whose family loves hockey and is a faithful reader. Thanks for the kind words, Tim.
A huge shoutout to my hero, Pedro Slayton. When I saw Pedro on Sunday during my own personal meet-and-greet, I reminded him how much I depend on him during these early days of camp. Pedro usually greets me as the guys get on the ice and points out who's who among the new players.
Today, Pedro outdid himself. He made a LIST!! He made it so much easier for me and I appreciated it so much. Thanks, Pedro!
Never was Pedro's help more needed or appreciated than this year with such a big camp. Today there were 24 bodies, with 4 others hurt or at higher camps. Yikes!
To recap: there are 3 goalies in camp. Incumbent and undisputed #1 goalie, Andrew Loewen and two rookies, Travis Bosch and Jesse Chenard. Jesse is the lone attendee from the free agent camp held this summer in Alberta.
There were 6 d-men skating today. Returnees Chris Bailer, Kyle Johnson, Kevin Kessler and Tom Maldonado were joined by Mike Switzer, who played in Augusta last year, and Jason Gray.
There were 5 full lines of forwards today. By the way, the guys were sporting new practice sweaters that looked really nice. Remember...there are 15 forwards and the team will only carry 10.
Returning are Matt Gingera, Jason Yuel, Daniel Amesbury, Corey Bellamy, Steve Wicklum, Will Aide, Jordan Braid, Levi Lind and Jordan Draper.
Now is the time for me to throw Jerome under the bus...for the first time this season!
I was determined to interview and write about every single player the team signed. If that means running up my phone bill with calls to Canada, so be it. Every year somebody falls through the cracks. Either JB overlooks them or they come at the last minute. Well, Corey and Steve, along with a player at a higher camp, are this year's omissions.
Corey has been up in the air all summer. Jerome expected him to go to a higher camp. To be honest, I don't know how he ended up here as I haven't had a chance to ask him. I had no idea about Steve until I was introducing myself to all the new players on Sunday. I put out my hand, said my name and he said..."Steve"...I said (to myself, fortunately) Steve? I have no Steve...haha. Apparently, I do. Steve played two games here at the very end of last season. So...welcome, Corey and Steve!
New forwards are Jordan Zalba, Mike Henderson, Seth Ronsberg, Tory Allan, Ian McNulty and Dan Bremner. You may recognize Dan's name as he played in Knoxville the past couple of seasons.
So, here's the way the lines stacked up on day 1. Don't get too used to it as they'll change in the morning, I'm sure.
- White: Zalba, Yuel, Amesbury
- Green: Bellamy, Ronsberg, Henderson
- Blue: Allan, McNulty, Wicklum
- Yellow: Gingera, Braid, Aide
- Red: Draper, Lind, Bremner
You'll be glad to know that this camp reminds me of 2011-2012, which, of course, was the championship year. That day, I said to myself: "Hey, guys...these are supposed to be your friends that you're slamming into the boards"...haha. But I came away from the rink that day, as well as today, thinking that guys are out there fighting for jobs.
That's the way it is in the higher leagues. A guy is always looking over his shoulder, wondering if another player is going to come along and take his job.
I got to see Jerome very briefly on the break. He described the first day as intense and said "There are no smiles out there today."
A couple of reminders about the exhibition game on Saturday. First of all, it's general admission seating...first come, first served. Secondly, the parking will be dreadful because of the fair. Get your tickets early and arrive early for the game.
Day 2 report coming around this time tomorrow!