Friday, September 9, 2011
Stars prospects ready for Traverse City
By Mark Stepneski
FRISCO -- Hockey is back this weekend as Dallas Stars prospects hit the ice in Traverse City, Michigan for the 2011 NHL Prospect Tournament.
Many of the Stars top prospects will play including the team’s last three first round picks – defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (2011), goaltender Jack Campbell (2010) and forward Scott Glennie (2009).
“It’s a good tournament,” said Glennie. “It gets you ready for camp, that’s the biggest part of it for us. That’s why we go there. It’s good to get the legs back and get in the game mindset again. It’s a big thing for all of us.”
Stars prospects will be joined by those from the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres.
“For a lot of guys it is a measuring stick to where you are, not only against prospects from other teams but guys in your own organization that you may have to beat out,” said Campbell. “That’s a huge thing for that tournament, but also if you play well you might get a shot at the next level. It’s just a great opportunity for everybody.”
Defenseman Brenden Dillon is another top Dallas prospect playing at the tournament. Dillon, a free agent signing out of the WHL made quite an impression during his brief stint with the Texas Stars late last season, and is expected to push for some NHL playing time this season. This will be another chance to shine in front of Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, Stars Director of Scouting and Player Development Les Jackson, head coach Glen Gulutzan and others.
“It was nice to get that little taste last year and that was a valuable experience,” said Dillon. “But now you’re going to have Joe, Les and all those guys watching and I am sure Gully will be around, so it will be good to get back in that rhythm and get this time of year going again.”
This will be Dillon’s first appearance at the tournament, which begins Saturday and runs through Wednesday.
“Everybody is itching to go with the season and this is the first taste of that. It’s a little bit of a taste of everything,” said Dillon. “You get to see all the top prospects from all the teams and get to play with the top prospects from Dallas. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”
Campbell, who will share the goaltending duties with Tyler Beskorowany, will be playing in his second tournament. He said he put too much pressure on himself last year to make an impression. This year he just wants to be himself.
“This year I am going to go out and have fun,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll stop all the pucks.”
Glennie’s a Traverse City veteran. He’ll be playing in his third tournament and his approach will be a lot different than the first one back in 2009.
“My first year playing there were a lot more nerves. You don’t know what to expect. Now, you know what the pace is going to be like and what it’s like,” Glennie said. “I have to go and take on more of a role. I’ll be one of the older guys and it will be my third year, so I want to take on a leadership role. We’ll see how that plays out. It’s definitely going to be different the first year I played there.”
Glennie and the other Dallas prospects will be coached by Jeff Pyle, the new head coach of the Texas Stars, and Texas assistant Jeff Truitt. There won’t be a lot of practice time heading into that first game, but Glennie said that’s part of what makes the tournament interesting.
“It’s a little bit crazy on the ice because you don’t practice too many systems. They try to get in as much as possible in the couple practices that you have before,” said Glennie. “It’s basically go out there and show what you can do. It’s a bit of a tougher environment, but you get used to it. You play four games and by the end of it everybody has kind of jelled together. It’s fun.”
And one advantage is that many of the guys have played together before and most of the players were together for a week at the team’s development camp in July.
“We kind of know each other now, most of the Stars prospects. It’s fun to work your way up and get to know everybody,” said Campbell. “I think that chemistry goes a long way in the tournament. It’s whatever team clicks the best is the one that will come out with the win.”
Dallas Stars Traverse City roster
Forwards: Matt Carter, Oliver D'Aoust, Matt Fraser, Scott Glennie, Cole Grbavac, Tristan King, Nick Layton, Scott Oke, Brett Ritchie, Ondrej Roman, Stephen Schultz, Matej Stransky, Matt Tassone
Defensemen: Jace Coyle, Curtis Crombeen, Brenden Dillon, Hubert Labrie, Jamie Oleksiak, Alex Theriau, Troy Vance