The Red Wings 2015 Development Camp came to an end Tuesday afternoon with a final scrimmage that was both entertaining and exciting. Development camp is a great opportunity to lean about players, their strengths, weaknesses, improvements, tendencies, etc... You just have to keep in mind that you're also limited in how much you can truly evaluate or judge a player in this setting. It's competitive, but it's also "friendly-ish" competition and for the players who rely on physicality, agitation, and the like to round out their game and make them who they are, they essentially have to play with one hand tied behind their backs. This game was about as physical as it could have been, without being too much for an inter-squad scrimmage. Tyler Bertuzzi was most noticeable for some hits, scrappy checking, and poking and prodding; a little taste for the younger guys of what they have to look forward to. Guys like Bryce Gervais and Anthony Greco can go full speed and not hold back, skating and spinning around defenders, while a guy like Mike McKee has to make a conscious effort not to seriously injure someone. There's a lot to be learned from these Development camps, but there's also a lot left to be discovered about these kids.
At this age, even one year makes a huge difference in player development, composure, and physical maturity, so the guys that have been to camp before are usually very easily spotted as the veterans. There are a few camp tryouts who have probably earned Prospect Tournament invites, although a couple of the invite standouts are college bound so they don't be able to attend. You'll notice Jerome Verrier, Bryce Gervais, Anthony Greco, Grant Gabriele, and Alex Globke as invites who made multiple appearances in the highlight reel, and Globke, a Waterford Michigan native who's heading into his Junior year at Lake Superior State, was also a camp invite last year. If I were the Wings, I'd have a keen eye on both Verrier and Globke as potential depth forwards.
Dylan Larkin was a much bigger "eye test" factor in this scrimmage than in the first one, and that's due in no small part to the fact that his linemates Axel Holmstrom and Evgeny Svechnikov were more comfortable, confident, and in impactful in this game. Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha have increasing chemistry and along with their centerman Dominic Turgeon, looked head and shoulders above the competition. It was a lot of fun to watch these young men grow and be challenged and I hope you enjoy the videos from the final day of camp.
Just like the first scrimmage, this one consisted of two 30 minute periods with 10 minutes of running clock and 20 stopped. It wasn't necessary to schedule power plays because there were a couple penalties called in the game, which is further proof of the pace and intensity with which these kids played.
Sheldon Dries opened up the scoring at 9:35 of the first period when he ripped one past Joren Van Pottelberghe and gave Team Howe a 1-0 lead. Team Lindsay tied things up at 15:32 when Dylan Larkin somehow put the puck past Tomas Kral from behind the net. Anthony Mantha had just rung one off the crossbar at the other end (you'll see the goal light come on) and the puck bounced out and the rush was on in the other direction. At 18:06 Team Lindsay took a 2-1 lead on a goal from Adam Marsh that Adam Lidstrom set up nicely. Team Howe would not go into the 2nd period behind though, because Marc McNulty and Anthony Mantha fed James de Haas at the point and the big defenseman's shot had eyes for the back of the net. The 1st period ended with a 2- 2 tie and some excellent play form both teams.
Halfway through the 2nd period Evan Polei fed a streaking Bryce Gervais who beat both Team Howe defensemen back and cleanly beat Jake Paterson to give Team Lindsay a 3-2 lead. At 20:42 of the 2nd period, something beautiful happened. From deep in Team Howe's defensive zone, Dominic Turgeon passed the puck to Tyler Bertuzzi who was about to exit the D-zone. Lil' Bert made a touch pass up a little further to Anthony Mantha who beat Jarett Meyer one on one, deked, and beat Jake Paterson 5-hole to give Team Howe a 4-2 lead. The suspense continued when with just 3 minutes left in the period, Dylan Larkin, Axel Holmstrom, and Evgeny Svechnikov put on a show of possession, hard work, and reward. Larkin was literally skating circles around the competition, and his line was in the offensive zone for what seemed like forever and there were bodies converging all over Chase Perry, Larkin fired several shots at the net, finally the puck came out loose for a couple seconds and Evgeny Svechnikov swooped in made no mistake on his shot. Team Howe had a 4-3 lead with only 3 minutes to go. But wait, there's more! The worse penalty in hockey reared its ugly head, and team Howe took a delay of game penalty (the puck didn't actually go into the crowd, but had there been no netting it would have, so they called it anyway). Joe Hicketts did a masterful job of quarterbacking the power play and with 6 seconds left in regulation, Christoffer Ehn scored the game tying goal and we were headed to sudden life/death overtime!
There was some confusion to start OT, because the referees kept wanting to do 4 on 4, but from his perch in the private suite above the ice, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill yelled down to Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi that he wanted to see 3 on 3 overtime. Nothing could have made me happier. I've been a big proponent of 3 on 3 overtime for a few years now, ever since getting to watch it in the Prospect Tournament. It's exciting, suspenseful, and still a team effort to decide the game. I'm posting the full, unabridged overtime so everyone can see a sample of why it's so exciting. There's so much space, and every little mistake can lead to a breakaway going the other way.
Anthony Mantha got a breakaway early into OT, and Joe Hicketts caught up to him and took away his ability to get a shot off. Dylan Larkin put on a good show with all that extra space, having more time to show off both puck and skating skills. It was Dylan Larkin who fed Jerome Verrier for the game winning goal that beat Chase Perry. Even though the game was won fair and square, we were treated to a complimentary 10 round shootout.
Tyler Bertuzzi kind of stole the show (again) with his shootout goal on poor Jake Paterson. I don't care one bit that it wouldn't have counted in the NHL anymore, it was incredibly entertaining, skilled, and fun as hell to watch.
Team Howe: #39 Anthony Mantha no goal on Jake Paterson
Team Lindsay: #63 Adam Marsh no goal on Chase Perry
Team Howe: #59 Tyler Bertuzzi goal on Paterson
Team Lindsay: #96 Axel Holmstrom no goal on Perry
Team Howe: #78 Dominic Turgeon goal on Paterson
Team Lindsay: #25 Dylan Larkin goal on Perry
Team Howe: #71 Villi Saarijarvi goal on Joren Van Pottelberghe
Team Lindsay: #22 Evgeny Svechnikov goal on Perry
Team Howe: #62 Zach Nastasiuk no goal on Van Pottelberghe
Team Lindsay: #17 Chase Pearson no goal on Perry
Team Howe: #83 Hampus Melen no goal on Van Pottelberghe
Team Lindsay: #70 Jerome Verrier no goal on Tomas Kral
Team Howe: #82 Evan Polei no goal on Paterson
Team Lindsay: #53 Joe Hicketts goal on Kral
Team Howe: #49 Bryce Gervais goal on Paterson
Team Lindsay: #92 Christoffer Ehn goal on Kral
Team Howe: #51 Won-Jun Kim goal on Van Pottleberghe
Team Lindsay: #45 Alex Globke goal on Kral
Team Howe: #67 Julius Vahatalo no goal on Van Pottleberghe
Team Lindsay: #73 Tyson Spink no goal on Kral
I'm sad that camp is over, but this game was a fantastic "see you in the fall" from all the players and coaches.