Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 08/20/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
TORONTO -- The pack of hockey players arrived at the small rink with a to-do list of goals.
Some came looking to get fit ahead of the new season, while others wanted to work out the kinks in their game.
Mark Scheifele stepped onto the ice hoping the extra effort leads him -- now, not later -- to the jersey he's been chasing for two years.
"My goal is to earn a spot on the Jets, and that's what I'm going to go to camp and do, and do whatever it takes to get that spot," he said Monday.
The Winnipeg Jets prospect is among 49 players taking part in the BioSteel strength and conditioning camp being run by former NHL player Gary Roberts and former Toronto Maple Leafs trainer Matt Nichol.
The players, including stars such as Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos and Montreal's P.K. Subban, take part in a mix of off-ice workouts, on-ice drills and finally a tournament over four days to get ready for the start of NHL training camps in September.
'I think this year's been a huge stepping stone for me. I think the year helped me out a lot and also this summer, I think I've had the best summer of my whole career'
-- Mark Scheifele
Scheifele is hoping the work leads to a permanent spot on the Jets' roster.
The 20-year-old centre was drafted seventh overall by Winnipeg in 2011, but has played only 11 career NHL games before twice being sent back down to play for the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts.
He took what he felt like a major step forward last season.
Scheifele led all skaters with 41 points during the playoffs en route to the Colts' Game 7 loss against the London Knights in the OHL final. He was also 13th in points overall during the regular season with 39 goals and 40 assists in just 45 games.
"I think this year's been a huge stepping stone for me," said Scheifele. "I think the year helped me out a lot and also this summer, I think I've had the best summer of my whole career.
"So I think I'm looking for big things in myself. I'm definitely pushing myself to get that spot."
Being in good company couldn't hurt either.
Scheifele was excited to share the ice with Stamkos, while pointing out Pittsburgh's James Neal and Detroit's Stephen Weiss as players he wants to learn from in his first year at the camp.
"Obviously Stamkos is an unbelievable player," said Scheifele. "Sixty goal scorer in the NHL, which is pretty unbelievable, so it'll going to be good to be on the ice with him. Obviously Neal as well, so it will be fun."
Scheifele is one of three OHL players -- the others are 16-year-old Erie Otters phenom Connor McDavid and Belleville Bulls goaltender Malcolm Subban -- on the camp's roster that features four AHL players, two from the ECHL, one U.S. college player and another from Europe.
Players pay to attend the camp at St. Michael's College School with different expectations.
Buffalo Sabres centre Cody Hodgson, for example, wants power.
"A lot more power," he said. "Working with Gary in the off-season, I'm going to the Buffalo workouts as well, just trying to get stronger in all areas but make sure I'm explosive in my shot and playing harder in front of the net, that kind of thing."
Neal, along with Stamkos and P.K. Subban, is preparing for Canada's Olympic orientation camp Aug. 25-28 in Calgary.
Scheifele wants to learn how to take care of his body and develop his game.
The 6-2, 184-pound native of Kitchener, Ont., describes himself as a two-way centre willing to make plays and shoot when the moment is right. Put another way, Scheifele wants to be good at everything.
"For the most part it's just I'm more confident with myself," he said. "I've matured physically, I think I've matured mentally as well. Confident with my game, confident with what I can do, I think that helps a lot when I get on the ice."
Whether or not Scheifele's progress leads to a Jets jersey being pulled over his head this season is another matter, but he's not too concerned.
"It's going to take a lot of hard work, but I'm ready to do it."
-- The Canadian Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2013 D2
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Jets starting season with fresh slate, says Ladd
Save percentage 1.000
Jets left-winger happy in the here and now
Love potion No. 9
Jets training camp kicks off
'They've come to perform'
Defence-first policy crucial for Jets to gain ground in playoff hunt
Maurice has influence, pedigree to make Winnipeg a contender
Maurice promises 'an exciting, very aggressive brand of hockey'
Is a playoff berth realistic or do the Jets have too many unsolved questions?
Is change brewing in Jetsville?
Scratching a seven-year itch
Vigier analyzes Maurice's likely impact as Jets head coach
Jets announce training schedule
This Ehlers kid can play a bit
Winnipeg Jets Notebook
Club high on Hutchinson
Players getting cranked for camp
Jet prospects prevail 5-4 in a shootout over Oilers
Jets to hold Fan Fest to kick off hockey season
Maurice will push players to maximum
Taking no chances with Ehlers
Slick Nic turns on red light
Petan leads young Jets to OT win over Canucks
Like a rock: Chevy steadfast
Quiet centre makes some noise
Top pick Ehlers iffy for today's game vs. Canucks