MARK SCHEIFELE was wearing one of those generic jersey numbers -- 45 -- that has rookie training camp prospect written all over it.
But take note of this, for what it's worth: within just a few moments of Day 1 of Winnipeg Jets rookie camp No. 45 was jumping out of the crowd with his powerful stride and NHL-calibre shot.
"It was fun. I loved it," said Scheifele. "The fans were just what I thought they were going to be and to be on the ice after a lot of fitness testing... it was good to actually step on the ice and get the legs going.
"It was definitely tough cardio-wise and it tired me out a lot, like on the bus (to MTS Iceplex) everyone thought they were going to fall asleep. But once we were on the ice it was smiles from there because we were out playing hockey."
The Jets' first-round draft choice in June, seventh overall, Scheifele has spent the summer adding 10 pounds to his 6-foot-1 frame while also attending Team Canada's World Junior evaluation camp and, most recently, training camp with the Barrie Colts.
He's stated all along his goal is to make the Jets as an 18-year-old, but many observers see him back in junior this season. All that stuff, of course, isn't his call. Instead, his goal is to make that decision for Jets' brass all that much more difficult.
"I definitely want to soak it all in and make an impression, show the Jets that I was the right pick and I'm the real deal," he said. "That's the whole thing this week: I just want to work hard and play my game.
"There's definitely pressure because you are the first pick. You have to use that pressure as motivation and determination to push yourself to be the better player."
Just FYI, Scheifele skated on a line Saturday with two other prospects high on the Jets' depth chart: Winnipegger Jason Gregoire, who spent the last three years at the University of North Dakota and Swedish forward Carl Klingberg.
"It was nice looking up there (on the dressing room board) and seeing my number on the first line," Gregoire admitted. "They say not to read into it too much and I won't do that. It was a lot of fun playing with them today.
"Obviously, they're both really skilled players. We started getting a little chemistry toward the end and if we can practice together and play the next game together we could get some real chemistry."
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