Players from Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie and the Sudbury area, all generally minor midget aged or older, took part in three full days of activity, both on-ice and off, as Adrian Gedye assembled some top-end local coaching talent.
With Lively native and re-signed San Jose Sharks forward Andrew Desjardins on hand for a quick "pep talk" with the boys, the prospects were exposed to the experience of both current and former junior hockey talent.
Tough guy's game evolving
After surprising many by cracking the roster of the Guelph Storm as a fourth round 2011 entry draft pick, Tyler Bertuzzi enjoyed a solid rookie season.
In addition to quickly making a name via his physical presence (Bertuzzi fought 15 times last year, but only on four occasions in the second half of the season), Bertuzzi evolved his game, finishing with six goals and 11 assists.
He also quickly garnered the adoration of the Storm faithful, voted "fan favourite" at the Guelph year-end banquet. While hitting everything in sight will likely always be a trademark of his game, Bertuzzi is well aware that he must continue to develop.
"I think my game can change all around," said Bertuzzi after a two-hour session last Saturday. "I'm getting bigger and stronger all the time, training hard, and my skating is getting better."
"I have more power in my legs, so my stride is better," he added. "I'm not going to fight as much — I'm going to pick my spots.”
He still plans to “stick up for my teammates" though.
In what should have been a pure "rebuilding" year, the Storm surprised some OHL pundits, playing .500 hockey while finishing 7th in the Western Conference.
Bertuzzi is understandably excited about the future for his very young team.
"We had 14 rookies last year and we should all be coming back," he said. "Scott Walker (Guelph coach) played the game like I play it. It's go, go, go, so it was easy to adjust."
Lachance eyes September action
At the moment, Sudbury netminder Brayden Lachance can only dream of his rookie OHL season.
After suiting up with the Sudbury Major Bantam "AAA" Wolves last year, Lachance enjoyed an impressive spring tryout with the Nickel City Minor Midget Sons, earning a spot on the roster.
With some ups and downs during the 2011-2012 campaign, the 15-year-old Collège Notre-Dame student was thankful that things came together at just the right time.
"I just found I could see the pucks better," Lachance said. "I was following everything better. Everything was coming easier to me. I'm not getting down on myself, I'm really just focused on the game."
With the motivational boost of a solid camp behind him, the local netminder has targetted some specific areas in attempting to move his skill-set forward before tournament play begins in early September.
"I really want to improve my rebound control, moving across the crease really well," he said. "And this summer, I'm working on my core training, my leg training, just so that I can be more powerful on the ice, more controlled."
In other minor midget news, projected OHL first-rounder Cameron Lizotte took advantage of the weekend skates to get one final bit of prep work done before joining 39 other top minor midget prospects from across the country at the NHLPA All-State All-Canadians Mentorship Program in Mississauga this week.
The five-day gathering will culminate on Saturday when Lizotte and the others play an intra-squad game that will be carried on TSN beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Current NHLers Taylor Hall and John Tavares will coach the respective teams, with players also exposed to sessions from the likes of Gary Roberts, Chris Campoli, Dr Paul Dennis and Brad Staubitz.
Randy Pascal is the founder of SudburySports.com and a contributing sports editor for Northern Life.
Posted by Mark Gentili