We know you've all been waiting for the rundown of the skills competition. So here it goes:
|Skill||Blue Team||White Team|
|The Hardest Shot:||1. Mayfield||1. Pedan|
|2. Theoret||2. Donovan|
|3. Katic||3. Trivino|
Each player will have two shots. Both shots count, but only the hardest shot (miles per hour) will be recorded.
|The Rapid Fire Test:||1. Persson||1. DiBenedetto|
|2. de Haan||2. Lee|
|3. Sundstrom||3. Ness|
|4. Cizikas||4. Nelson|
|Shooting on Rosen/Nilsson||Shooting on Riopel/Rawlings|
This competition tests the goalies. All three skaters will be armed with three pucks each and will shoot from inside the top of the faceoff circle. Each goalie will face nine shots each.
|The Breakaway:||1. Niederreiter||1. Kichton|
|2. Strome||2. Ullstrom|
|3. Kabanov||3. Rakhshani|
|Shooting on Nilsson||Shooting on Rawlings|
This is the standard shootout challenge. Each skater will have one opportunity to score on the other team's goaltender.
||Shooting on Rosen||Shooting on Riopel|
All the skaters from each team will participate in this challenge. All the skaters must be on their bench other than the two players trying to score. The first skater will start on the blueline as he heads for a shot on his opposing team's goaltender. If he misses the shot, he must place the puck back on the blueline before his teammate is allowed on the ice to take the next shot. The first team to score seven goals wins.
Scoring: The winning team of each skills competition will be awarded one point, which will be added on to the final score from the scrimmage.
The Islanders equipment staff have worked hard to complete the setup of both the Blue Team and White Team's locker rooms and now they're ready for the game to begin. Here are a few photos of the dressing rooms.
The Blue Locker Room:
The White Locker Room:
After each team’s morning skate, I spoke with a few players from each team and had all of them size up their competition. What I learned: the atmosphere in the two locker rooms was very different.
Calvin de Haan and Nino Niederreiter, players for the Blue Team, gave some detailed answers, but were primarily down to business. But when I walked into the White Team’s locker room and spoke to Aaron Ness and Rhett Rakhshani, their answers were quite comedic. So who will take the cake tonight, the down to business Blue Team or the fun and energetic White Team?
Here’s what the Blue Team had to say:
Calvin de Haan
Q: Tell me, what do you expect from tonight’s game?
de Haan: I think it’s going to be a pretty high-tempo game. A lot of guys are trying to make first impressions and some are trying to make lasting impressions as well. I think guys are going to work hard out there, especially for some of the camp invites. It’s a chance to make a name for themselves.
Q: Which team do you think will win?
de Haan: We think we’re going to win. You have to be confident, but at the same time you can’t be cocky, it’s a fine line. Their top line definitely has a lot of skill, with (Rhett) Rakhshani and (David) Ullstrom up there. They had great seasons last year. And they have the pest up front too, (Justin) DiBenedetto. He’s going to try to get under our skin, I can tell you that right now. Other than that, they have a solid squad just like us. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Q: What’s the best part about the skills competition?
de Haan: The skills competition is a good time to show some creativity that we have as players and as goalies to stop the puck, making incredible saves on breakaways, but it’s competitive as well because it’s an aspect of the game. It’s a good way to show your creativity.
Q: Who do you think will win tonight?
Niederreiter: I have no idea. I think we have a very good team and my opinion, we’re probably going to win. We have great skill. Kirill (Kabanov), Ryan (Strome) and I have some good chemistry so far, we’ve been passing a lot. They’ve got good skills and good shots, so I think it’s going to be a good line.
Q: Do you think it will be a close game?
Niederreiter: It’s definitely going to be a good battle. We both have good teams. It’s always fun to play summer hockey. There’s going to be a lot of good skill out there and we’ll be competing hard so it will be very fun.
Here’s what the White Team had to say:
Q: What do you think of your competition?
Ness: I haven’t had the chance to see them, but I think we’re the harder working team. I think we’re a little more skilled too, on both ends. We’ve got great goaltending and really great coaches (Brent Thompson and Geoff Sanderson) so it will be a good game, but hopefully we’ll come out on top.
Q: So you’re not going to size them up for me at all?
Ness: I haven’t really had a chance to look at the roster yet. I usually like to study that before the game starts, so a couple hours before the game I’ll check out the roster and memorize some of their numbers. So it won’t be until pregame that I’m going to know this stuff.
Q: Want to give me a more serious answer?
Ness: I think both teams are pretty even tonight. You never know until you jump on the ice. We didn’t get the chance to watch them at all this week because they were on the ice when we were in the gym and vice versa so it will be fun to see what they have. It should be a good game.
Q: How is your team’s chemistry?
Ness: It’s been good. There have only been a couple practices so we’re kind of jumping right into it. I think we worked hard this week. I think we’re ready to jump out there and into a game situation.
Q: Mark Katic said he was going to try the knuckle puck during the skills competition. Do you have any hidden skills or surprises up your sleeve?
Ness: No, I don’t have any moves. I’m more of a shooting guy. I’m just going to go down, shoot as hard as I can, close my eyes and hopefully it goes in. I don’t know what a knuckle puck is, but we’ll see.
Q: You have the mentality that you guys are going to win tonight?
Rakhshani: That’s not our mentality. That is what’s going to happen. We’re going to win. The biggest concern for them right now is do we want to just beat them or do we want to embarrass them. Because I think that’s what it comes down to. We’re all friends and we’re all Islanders here, but at the end of the day, where do we stop? Do we stop at three goals? Five goals? A ten-goal lead? That’s important for us and that’s what we’ll be talking about – how much we want to beat them by. It will be fun. We’re excited to work on some moves out there and work hard.
Q: When I went into the other room, they were more sizing up the competition and you guys are a little more comedic in your responses. Why do you think that is?
Rakhshani: That’s because they’re worried about us. They’re very worried.
Q: So you guys are worried, not at all about the other team?
Rakhshani: No. You respect all opponents, but you fear none. We’ll respect them enough not to completely embarrass them.
Q: Skills competition, do you have any moves planned?
Rakhshani: I don’t know. We’ll see what event I’m chosen for. Everyone tries to have fun out there and has some fun moves or will pull something crazy out of their sleeves, so it should be fun.
After a long week of Mini-Camp anticipation, it's finally the day of the Blue & White Scrimmage and Skills Competition.
Today will run just like a normal game day. The Blue Team had their morning skate at 10 a.m., followed by the White Team at 11:00 a.m. After the skate, the players will go back, relax, have lunch and maybe take a nap before coming back to Nassau Coliseum for a competitive, yet fun Blue & White Scrimmage which will be followed by a Skills Competition.
Blue Team Lineups:
37 Kirill Kabanov - 8 Ryan Strome - 25 Nino Niederreiter
62 Tyler McNeely - 53 Casey Cizikas - 56 John Persson
64 Ben Thomson - 28 Johan Sundstrom - 61 Mitchell Theoret
42 Max LeSieur - 54 Tony Romano - 6 Max Capuano
* Will rotate with seven men
3 Calvin de Haan - 63 Scott Mayfield
71 Mark Katic - 41 Robbie Russo
33 Benn Olson - 58 Bennett Schneider
50 Teigan Zahn
52 Chris Rawlings (First period)
34 Nicola Riopel (Second period)
White Team Lineups:
18 Justin DiBenedetto - 45 David Ullstrom - 49 Rhett Rakhshani
58 Anders Lee - 11 Brock Nelson - 56 Cody McNaughton
63 Danny Linell - 38 Corey Trivino - 62 KJ Tiefenwerth
61 Dan O'Donoghue - 37 Ben Rosen - 64 Stephen Alonge
* Will rotate with seven men
24 Aaron Ness - 29 Matt Donovan
42 Andrey Pedan - 41 Brenden Kichton
33 Art Bidlevskii - 6 Mike Marcou
50 Mei Ushu
34 Cody Rosen (First period)
52 Anders Nilsson (Second period)
|David Ullstrom shows off his Mets gear at Citi Field prior to the Mets vs. Phillies game on Friday, July 15, 2011.|
Although only a handful of player at this week’s mini-camp are from the New York Area, there are a few notables who consider themselves big Mets fans. David Ullstrom, Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin were decked out in Mets shirts and hats for the game, urging on the home team.
Cizikas and Justin DiBenedetto did their best Howie Rose/Butch Goring impressions as they tried their hand at some play-by-play during the fifth inning.
Friday night’s Mets game was also camp invite Art Bidlevskii’s first baseball game. Hear what he thought of the experience, and see if his play-by-play skills were close to the team of Cizikas and DiBenedetto.
Although the Mets dropped the 7-2 decision to the Phillies, the players were able to use the opportunity to spend some time with each other one last time before facing off in Saturday night’s Blue and White Scrimmage.
POSTED ON Friday, 07.15.2011 / 4:43 PM ET
Here's more of an inside look from within the locker room at Islanders Mini-Camp on Friday, July 15, 2011.
POSTED ON Thursday, 07.14.2011 / 5:35 PM ET
Click the photo to view photo galleries from Islanders Mini-Camp thus far.
|Andrey Pedan (blue) and Danny Linell (orange) skating at Nassau Coliseum during an on-ice session of Islanders Mini-Camp on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.|
POSTED ON Thursday, 07.14.2011 / 5:25 PM ET
“It was my first time on the ice here at the Nassau (Coliseum),” Strome said. “It’s good to kind of get that under your belt and get the first one out of the way. It was good to get back on the ice. That’s what we’re here for and that’s the fun part. So it was great.”
Even though the campaign for a new arena is in full swing, Strome still thought it was cool to be skating at the original Coliseum, where four Stanley Cups were won.
“It was cool,” Strome said about skating at the Nassau Coliseum. “It could be a big part of my future. Hopefully it is. It’s great to have that first experience under your belt. It was very exciting and little nerve racking at first, but it’s just hockey and I had a lot of fun.”
|Ryan Strome takes a shot on Anders Nilsson during a on-ice session at Islanders Mini-Camp on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.|
“He’s been up for a couple of games in the NHL and he knows what it takes,” Strome said. “I’ve been talking to him a little bit, giving me a little advice and I’m just trying to following in his footsteps and learn everything I can.”
He’s also received a bit of mentoring from fellow Mississauga native and first round pick, John Tavares. The two even shared a few text messages yesterday, with Tavares asking Strome how he’s doing.
“(Prior to the draft) we kind of joked about it (being on the same team) a little bit,” Strome said. “It’s reality now. He’s a good role model and a good guy to look up to. He works so hard. He’s such a professional and we all know how good he is. So it’s great to kind of learn from him and see what he does every day, just go under his wing a little bit and learn everything I can. He’s a good guy and he’s helped me out a lot.”
Tavares, the first overall selection in 2009, made his transition from Junior to the NHL rather quickly, playing pros the very same season he was drafted. Niederreiter, drafted fifth overall in 2010, played nine games last season and is hoping to make the Islanders roster straight out of Training Camp this year.
So if Strome wants to follow in his teammates footsteps, he said, “This is work time. I want to make the team and this is the first time. So yeah, this is exciting and it’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, but it’s down to business now. They’re (management, coaches and scouts) all watching, they’re all watching 24/7. So it’s definitely time for work.”
Fans will get to see Strome’s talent first-hand on Saturday night when he and the rest of the prospects gear up for the Blue & White Scrimmage and Skills Competition.
“That’s what we’re all here for, to play,” Strome said. “Hopefully the fans get a good look at the future and what the Islanders have here. I think it’s a bright future, so I’m very excited.”
The White Team took the ice for their first on-ice session at 10 a.m. while the Blue Team were completing their first off-ice session with Islanders Strength & Conditioning Coach Jesse Demers. Coaches consisted of Islanders head coach Jack Capuano, Islanders skills coach Bernie Cassell, Islanders goalie coach Mike Dunham, Islanders player development personnel Eric Cairns and Geoff Sanderson, and Sound Tigers assistant coach Eric Boguniecki.
The group did a couple warm-up laps before meeting again at the center circle as Rhett Rakhshani and David Ullstrom led the stretches.
While the White Team skated, a cloud of Islanders personnel sat in the rafters of the 200 section, including Islanders General Manager Garth Snow and a slew of scouts. If the prospects weren't nervous prior to the start of camp, they could be now.
The White Team:
Stephen Alonge, Justin DiBenedetto, Brett Gallant, Anders Lee, Danny Linell, Cody McNaughton, Brock Nelson, Dan O'Donoghue, Rhett Rakhshani, Ben Rosen, KJ Tiefenwerth, Corey Trivino, David Ullstrom
Art Bidlevskii, Matt Donovan, Brenden Kichton, Mike Marcou, Andrey Pedan, Mei Ushu
Anders Nilsson and Cody Rosen