Caps Open Camp, Change ECHL Affiliates

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

Dozens of NHL hopefuls hit the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex this morning for the Capitals’ annual summer development camp. Split into two groups, one took to the ice for drills at 9 a.m. and the second at 10:45 a.m. After an afternoon break, the two groups reconvened for an afternoon scrimmage. Team Red and Team White played two halves, a 20-minute running clock session followed by an intermission and an ice resurfacing. Then the two sides played another 25 minutes under a normal stop format. Team Red jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first half, going out in front on a deft deflection from Gregory Miller that beat White goaltender Brandon Anderson. Miller, a Toronto native, played collegiate hockey for Cornell last season. Early in the second session, Travis Boyd threaded a shot through goaltender Brooks Ostergard to even the score at 1-1. Several minutes later, White took the lead when an opportunistic Greg Burke pounced on a rebound and beat Ostergard. Brent Tate finished the scoring in the final minute of the scrimmage with an empty-netter that gave White a 3-1 victory. Steffen Soberg was the winning netminder for Team White; he was unblemished in his 25- minute half of work. The Monday session was the first for eight of the 10 players drafted by the Capitals last month at the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. Fourth-rounder Austin Wuthrich is not attending the camp and seventh-rounder Sergei Kostenko is expected to arrive on Wednesday after ironing out some visa issues. The session was also the first on the ice for Caps head coach Adam Oates, named to the post less than two weeks ago. “It was good, it was fun. A lot of fun,” said Oates after the scrimmage. “[There were] a little butterflies this morning but once we got into it, it was just like old times.” Oates will install his own system of play here, but today was more about everyone getting comfortable. “The system is really going to be ours,” declares Oates. “I’m trying to learn the guys a little bit. It’s harder during practices, but the game made it a little easier to watch them. They’ve got their names on their jerseys and there’s a little more of a ‘team’ look to it. It’s a little bit easier to pick up what they do.” Although Oates knows how he wants his players to play the game, he touched on that aspect just lightly on day one of camp. “We had a little video meeting this morning and we just showed a little bit of our system, just to give them a touch of it,” relates Oates. “They’re here, they’re a little bit nervous, they want to show what they’ve got. They’re going to have a lot of scrimmages, so we don’t want to overwhelm them with too much system stuff right now. We just touched on a little bit of it.” Change Partners – After an eight-year affiliation with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL, the Caps announced a new direction on Monday. Beginning in 2012-13, the Caps will begin a new ECHL affiliation with the Reading Royals. The change in affiliates will make it easier to ship players between the AHL and the ECHL in the Washington organization. The distance between the Caps’ AHL Hershey affiliate and Reading can be traveled in about an hour by car. “It’s a great thing for our fans in Reading,” says Larry Courville, head coach and director of hockey operations for the Royals. “I think working with Washington and Hershey, they’re both first-class organizations. I previously worked with [Caps general manager] George [McPhee] when I was a player in Vancouver and with [Hershey general manager] Doug Yingst when I played in Hershey. I think over the past years [the organization] developed players at our level, specially goalies like Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth and we’re hoping we have the same experience here in Reading.” Courville split the 2001-02 season between Hershey and Reading, and he spent the final four full seasons of his playing career with Reading before starting his coaching career as an assistant with the Royals in 2008-09; he took over as bench boss halfway through that campaign. He has been the head coach in reading for each of the last three full seasons “We’re hoping it’s going to make it a little easier on us,” says Courville of the new affiliation. “With the travel being less than an hour to get players back and forth, it makes sense. I think it makes sense for Washington. Unfortunately, with the amount of roster spots in the American league, there are going to be some players who may have to sit out some games. You’re going to want those guys playing. It was tough in years past with Toronto being an eight-hour drive or a long flight getting those guys to play for us on a regular basis. I think it’s going to be a great thing for all three organizations.” Just as Caps fans have enjoyed making the trek to Hershey to see the organization’s prospects on their way up the ladder, Courville believes that his team can draw Bears fans into the Reading building. “I only see upside,” says Courville. “In the past, how many Cups have [the Bears] won in the last six or seven years? I think a lot of the Hershey fans love hockey and I think they’re willing to drive and come see their players in Reading. I think it’s going to hopefully increase our season-ticket holders. We average about 45 [hundred fans per game] and we’re hoping that it will increase on a year-to-year basis. We’re hoping that it’s going to work out really well.”

next up:

Settling in at Caps Camp

January 14, 2013

Most of the North American attendees to the Caps’ annual summer development camp got into town on Sunday, a day ahead of the first day of on-ice drills and scrimmage. Thomas Di Pauli, the center chosen in the fourth round (100th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, flew in from the Midwest. “I got in

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