It was a good day to wear red at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, and we don’t just mean the fan apparel. Team Red won today’s intrasquad scrimmage by a 7-3 margin on this, the penultimate day of Caps Development Camp 2013.
From the time Andre Burakovsky of Team Red faced off with Justin Larson of Team White to start the contest, it was going to be a long day for the men in white. Team White did have some early success early, but a fundamental mistake cost them the game’s first goal. Chandler Stephenson broke up a pass thrown through the middle and headed off on a breakaway, scoring on the play to give Team Red an early 1-0 lead.
Team White evened the contest at a goal apiece when Riley Barber converted a pretty centering feed from Matt Petgrave, but Team Red regained the lead it would not relinquish when Conor MacPhee finished a 2-on-1 break with Travis Boyd.
After Team Red scored again on a goal-mouth scramble to make it 3-1, Stephane Legault made it 4-1 for The Red Men and threatened to turn the game into a rout. But with last seconds of the period ticking off, Michal Cajkovsky of Team White let fly with a bomb from the left point through a maze of bodies to cut the lead to two goals with 4.3 seconds left in the period. His was the most animated goal celebration of the day. At the first intermission, it was Team Red: 4 – Team White: 2.
We should note one other thing about the first period. Matt Petgrave laid quite a hip check on Brandon Tanev who flew into the air, went completely upside down, skates pointed to the ceiling, and came down in what could have been an unfortunate manner. But, these being youngsters, he popped up and jumped right back into the play.
Period two started with missed chances on both sides. Early on, there was a pile up of bodies in front of Team Red goalie Brandon Anderson, with the puck lying still just a foot off the left post, but White could not convert the opportunity before the puck was swept away. At the other end, Zach Sanford of Team Red had a chance on a backhand to the left of goalie Sergei Kostenko, but his shot hit the near post and bounced away.
At the ten-minute mark (9:47 left, actually), Anderson and Kostenko retired to their respective benches in favor of Louis-Philip Guindon for Team Red and Clarke Saunders for Team White. It was Team Red taking first advantage of the change in goal, although Saunders was left hanging out to dry on the play. Caleb Herbert crossed wires with a teammate at the blue line, and the puck slid away from him, outside of his reach just enough for Stephenson to grab it and take off on another breakaway. He made it 2-for-2 in conversions, and Team Red had a 5-2 lead.
On the next shift, though, Chance Braid got it back for Team White with a put-back from the doorstep to make it 5-3, Team Red. Later, Stephenson would get his chance for the hat trick with a semi-break, but was unable to convert the opportunity. He did, however, draw a penalty on the play. Team Red was not able to convert the man advantage opportunity, but they did carry that 5-3 lead into the second intermission.
The pace seemed to pick up a bit in the third, and it was Team Red with the first early chance. Andre Burakovsky and Tom Wilson carried the puck in on a 2-on-1 rush, but when Burakovsky slid the puck over to Wilson, Michal Cajkovsky displayed his talent in the defensive end in addition to his booming shot by tying up Wilson before he could get a shot off.
Turnovers, though, were a problem for Team White all day, and they committed another, giving Zach Harnden a chance to display his breakaway skills. He converted the chance to make it 6-3, Team Red.
With the clock winding down, Team White did create some chances, but in one instance a puck rolled off a stick in the low slot, and in another a one-timer was shanked wide. That made for a desperate Team White, but they got another chance with a late power play. It was an opportunity to create a 6-on-4 advantage when they pulled Saunders for the extra attacker. But despite the two-man advantage in numbers, it was Tom Wilson who would score for Team Red, burying a shorthanded empty net shot to give Team Red their final 7-3 margin.
It was a well-attended contest at KCI, and the boys put on a show. This might be, as head coach Adam Oates suggested earlier in the week, more of a getting to know sort of week than evaluation – players getting to know the organization and the system, as well as getting valuable advice on their game, their training, and their nutrition, and for the organization to get a closer look at just what they have in terms of prospects. But for the boys, it is a chance to impress, to perhaps get another look down the road and perhaps a contract, if the fates are kind. Whatever the motivation, it was a very entertaining contest, indeed.