This past week, the Hurricanes hosted their annual Prospect Development Camp, which was capped off on Saturday by Summerfest, which is the fans’ first opportunity to meet the prospects and see them in game action via a controlled scrimmage.
The Canes have a reputation for having great fan relations, and they effectively lived up to it this weekend. The day featured autographs, inflatables for kids, extended hours at the EYE team store, a very well mediated interview of new head coach Bill Peters by John Forslund, and of course the prospect scrimmage.
The announced 3,500+ Caniacs that showed up to the scrimmage were not disappointed, as Team Red cruised to a 7-5 victory (including 2 shootout goals for them, and 1 for Team White). The actual game was two 15-minute games, one being 5 on 5, and the other 4 on 4. Both sessions featured a few displays of excellent stickhandling and shot accuracy, and just the right amount of chippiness to let you know that these guys really are fighting for a spot.
My top three perfomers of the day are Haydn Fleury, Josh Wesley, Phil Di Giuseppe. All three exhibited excellent work ethic, signs of which include “finishing checks, backchecking all the time, and being vocal” as defined by Bill Peters in his interview. Fleury and Wesley, for all the attention they’ve received, despite their separate reasons for receiving such, certainly lived up to their hype.
Fleury played like the first rounder he is, seeking out offensive opportunities and making solid first passes while maintaining his defensive responsibilities. Wesley, on the other hand, surprised me. Sure there will be similarities drawn between him and his dad, but I didn’t expect such a high level of play at such an early stage in his career.
No, he’s not Norris Trophy quality, but he is much more solid than you would expect a young 4th rounder to be. He was effective in his own zone, moving the puck with efficiency and purpose, and was solid in one on one play, shutting down most forwards that attempted to pass him. Not to mention, there were few second chances for forwards in front of his net due to his ability to clear the puck and tie up sticks.
There weren’t any bad performers, although it seemed Daniel Altshuller struggled considerably in net. Perhaps his confidence was shaken or he was just having a bad day. Either way, if he wants a spot on the team I’m sure he will pick up his play.
All in all, the Summerfest celebration was a pretty great way to spend a Saturday, and absolutely has me asking “Is it October yet?”