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TRAINING CAMP UPDATE: Day 2 and 3 Review

Wednesday, October 7th
TRAINING CAMP UPDATE: Day 2 and 3 Review

It’s been just three practices for the Idaho Steelheads, but they’re already geared up for game action... in a sense.

The Steelheads will face off against the Utah Grizzlies on Friday night at CenturyLink Arena, but first they’ll test their game legs on their own. After a three day crash-course in Head Coach Neil Graham’s game plan, Wednesday afternoon’s intrasquad scrimmage will be the first quiz.

“The guys have been working hard and putting in some long hours, the film sessions in the morning and applying situations in practice,” said Graham. “It’s been a lot to throw at them. I don’t expect things to be done perfect tonight, by any means, but it’ll be nice to see who’s picking up on things quickly.”

The Steelheads had a free-flowing practice on Monday, but over the last two days there has been a greater focus on positioning and situational play. Graham and Assistant Coach Gord Baldwin have spent more time at the dry-erase board, fielded more questions, and blown plays dead to correct mistakes. It’s been a lot to absorb in a short time.

“I think it’s a balance,” said Graham. “The first two days we went for an hour and twenty, and the first 20 minutes are all pace and tempo without any breaks at all to get the guys going. As far as the systems go, it’s a balance of not overloading them with information but being sure they have enough structure to play within that system.”

- For the first time this week, the Steelheads ran through some power play looks at one end of the ice. Several lines ran through simulated in-zone play, many working with the same linemates they skated with in line rushes earlier in practice. For Graham, there is a structure he wants to see from his power play units in terms of what they’re executing. At the same time, he wants his players to have the freedom to read and react to any situation, something that will open up options with the speed and skill of the forward group in camp.

“The kind of system we’re playing right now, I’ve played before,” said forward Andre Bouvet-Morrissette, who skated with Jefferson Dahl and Andrew Carroll for much of the day. “Obviously there are some elements that are different, but I can play the same.”

- None of the lines seen in practice over the past three days are set in stone in any way, as the coaching staff uses camp to test as many combinations as possible. But one pairing that has skated together for a couple of days and is worth keeping an eye on is winger Colton Beck and newly-acquired center Carson McMillan.

Beck scored 12 goals and 24 points over the final 24 games last season, bringing his game to a new level, while McMillan’s offensive instincts shown at the NHL and AHL levels were a driving factor in bringing him to Idaho. The two have certainly looked strong through three days.

“Any level you play at, once you get the first year under your belt you’re a lot more comfortable. You find out what parts of your game work and what parts didn’t, and you make adjustments for that,” said Beck. “I’m confident I can pick up where I left off and have a good year.”

- Skating alongside Beck and Carson McMillan was a new addition to camp, forward Brandon Magee. Magee was one of three new additions for Wednesday practice, including forward Taylor Peters and goaltender Philippe Desrosiers. All three were assigned to Idaho this week by AHL Texas. Tuesday’s practice also featured new blood, as defenseman Zack Kamrass skated with the team for the first time along with forwards Cam Braes and Emil Molin.

“There are a lot of bodies here right now,” said Graham of his new influx of players. “We’re trying to keep everyone on an even keel without putting pressure on guys, but it’s a competitive camp and we knew that from Day One. The guys who have come down from our affiliates are high-character players that fit right into the structure that we’re implementing, and having them here helps.

“A lot of these guys have been working in very similar structures and systems over the last three weeks at Dallas’ camp and Texas’ camp. To have those guys come in and lead by example definitely helps.”

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