Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rookies pick up pace on Sunday

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NEW St. John's IceCaps head coach Keith McCambridge is running the on-ice show for the Jets this week at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, B.C.

McCambridge put the prospects, including first-round draft pick Mark Scheifele, through their paces Saturday and Sunday at the MTS IcePlex before the team flew to B.C. later Sunday.

The tournament begins for Winnipeg tonight at 9:30 CT against the prospects of the San Jose Sharks.

"It was a lot better pace," McCambridge said Sunday. "(Saturday) was a real tough day for them."

The 22 prospects went through fitness testing and physicals to start their compressed weekend.

"Then it was a pretty vigorous practice for their first day," McCambridge said. "Today, I thought they had their legs back, they were thinking the game and it was a pretty good pace."

In preparing the prospects for the three games at the tournament, McCambridge said there's a lot to digest.

"We trying to give them the fundamentals for what we need system-wise -- the neutral zone, faceoffs, special teams," he said. "You don't want to overcoach them, where they have to think too much.

"We want to see how guys react. We want to see defencemen versus forecheck, forwards versus odd-man rush opportunities, goaltending, and see who stands out.

"The compete level will be a big part of it."

"è "è "è

On finally getting on the ice after a whirlwind summer of change (McCambridge last season was a Moose assistant coach), the coach said: "It's good finally, with that list you have, to check off at the bottom, which was touch the ice for rookie camp."

In charge of the organization's AHL team, McCambridge sees similar excitement in the Newfoundland and Labrador capital.

"They're excited down in St. John's also -- 5,000 season-ticket holders. The city has a small version of what's taking place here in Winnipeg," he said. "It'll be a real good atmosphere for guys to go and develop. One of the huge benefits is going to be the culture. It's going to be the same up here as it is down there so when guys come to Winnipeg, it won't be a matter of them changing their thought process or what they need to do. It'll be just a matter of instinct and playing to their skill set."

"è "è "è

The team's third-round draft pick in June, left-winger Adam Lowry of the WHL's Swift Current Broncos, did a double-take at the IcePlex this weekend.

About 1,000 fans showed up for Saturday's practice, and about 500 attended on Sunday.

"It's exciting," Lowry said. "I know they're really excited to have their team back. I'm not used to practising in front of that many people. We kind of joked around that Swift Current gets that many fans for our games."

"è "è "è

McCambridge said Sunday he's likely to start out the tournament with Scheifele, a centre, and left-winger Carl Klingberg together on the same line. Klingberg, 20, was a second-round Atlanta pick in 2009.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 12, 2011 C5

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