After a long, hot summer, October has finally arrived – and the Louisiana IceGators are skating again. Coach Drew Omicioli opened the team’s 2015 training camp with a spirited morning scrimmage at Planet Ice, and hockey fans in Acadiana got to take a close look at the new squad for the first time.
The team was split up, and both squads went head-to-head in 5-on-5, 4-on-4, and 3-on-3 periods before finishing up the morning session with a mercifully short bag skate. The players were noticeably and predictably gassed coming off the ice after practice, much to Omicioli’s satisfaction.
- Defensemen Tanner Burton & Mitch Stretch and Forwards Steven Buco & Jon Puskar have been released from the training camp roster. The IceGators still have SPHL rights to Buco, Burton, and Stretch as protected list players until January 1st. All are expected to make the rosters of their respective ECHL teams.
- Sitting out of today’s practice were defenseman Jordan Ciccarello and goalie Jonah Imoo. Both are expected to be in action for tomorrow’s sessions.
- Defenseman Nick Kuqali will be returning to the IceGators after being released by the ECHL Fort Wayne Komets.
- All of the IceGators from last season’s squad played well and with a crisp pace. Forwards Chris Wilson and Tyler Barr seem to be skating with an extra gear, center Jeremy Boyer is silky smooth, winger Luke Kasteel stood out repeatedly – especially in the 4×4 period, and Jake Hauswirth’s shot is booming.
- Speaking of Hauswirth’s shot, he rang a blast from the point that caught goalie Adam Courchaine square in the mask. Courchaine reacted appropriately with a colorful description of Hauswirth’s snipe.
- New Gators who stood out: Forwards Johnny Daniels and Jacob Laliberte showed good speed in splitting the defense and generating scoring chances. Dan Cornell and Brian Bourke were solid on defense. Forward Vlad Gavrik showed some speed and timely passing. Alex Hudson performed as advertised in the faceoff circle and looked good playing down low and in the corners.
- Matt Cooper may have a slight edge over Matic Marincek in the backup goalie battle, but it’s still anyone’s job to win.
From the Coach’s Mouth
- For a first day, I thought it was excellent. Obviously the guys who were in the (ECHL) had a little more experience. They’ve been on the ice… they’ve been in camp.
- I was beyond impressed with the intensity and the skill set.
- Our forwards are loaded, and our (defense) looked good.
- Kuqali and Ciccarello… will add more depth to our defense.
- (On today’s standout players) Gavrik looked phenomenal… Wilson looked great… Daniels looked pretty good.
- I was very impressed by Kasteel (who had a nice goal and assist in the 4-on-4 period).
- Brad Bourke was one of the best (defensemen) out there. Danny Cornell looked great.
- (On goaltending) Courchaine… looked great… very good.
- Our other two guys (Marinsek & Cooper) are both straight out of college… it’s going to take a few sessions to get used to the level of play… but I think they handled themselves very well.
The IceGators return to the ice this afternoon at 4:45 for conditioning drills. The rest of this week’s sessions are listed below:
Thursday (10/15) – 9:00am intrasquad scrimmage, 4:45pm drills
Friday (10/16) – 9:00am intrasquad scrimmage. No afternoon practice.
Saturday (10/17) – 4:00pm exhibition game at Pensacola Ice Flyers.
Sunday (10/18) – Cutdown date to 22 player roster.
Wednesday (10/21) – Cutdown date to 18 player roster.