By Nick Barnowski –
TRAVERSE CITY – The halfway point of this year’s Detroit Red Wings development camp has been reached, and was marked Friday by an intra-squad scrimmage at Centre Ice Arena.
Following two days of on- and off-ice drills, the players were finally able to skate in a game environment, which consisted of two 30-minute periods. In the first session, the clock was running until the 10-minute mark, and in the second session, each team got consecutive four minute power plays to start, with the clock running the rest of the time. All penalties were followed by a penalty shot.
Team Yzerman, led by Martin Frk and Ryan Sproul, defeated Team Lidstrom 7-1 in a physical and fast affair.
“It was great to be out there,” Sproul said. “It’s been a while for a high tempo game like that. The guys that I was playing with were incredible.”
Dressed in white jerseys, Team Yzerman got off to a quick start, with Zach Nastasuik finding the back of the net around four minutes into the game to make it 1-0.
In the next eight minutes, they scored three more goals on Team Lidstrom goalie Toni Eskelinen, led by Frk’s two tallies.
“It was a lot of fun to play with the new guys,” Frk said. “It’s a little bit harder but you get used to it right away. It’s good for me and a good experience.”
Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill was impressed with his performance.
“I thought Frk was really good. He’s a guy who knows how to find the net, he knows how to get open. He’s a guy who has great offensive instincts, he likes to score, I think he’s got a chance to be a real good player.”
Frk’s first came on a wraparound, while his second was assisted by Sproul. In between his two goals, David Pope shot one past Eskelinen after stealing the puck at the blue line.
With 6:39 left, Team Yzerman goalie Jake Paterson stopped Xavier Ouellet on a penalty shot to keep the 4-0 lead. Shortly after, a collision between Frk and Tyler Bertuzzi saw Bertuzzi’s helmet and glove go flying in the air, a testament to the game’s physical play.
“That’s really what I expected out there,” Anthony Mantha said. “Guys really want their spot this year and for years to come, so it was a challenging game.”
Less than 30 seconds into the second period, the white team struck again, this time by Richard Nedomlel from the point, assisted by Frk.
Most of the play in the second period was in Team Yzerman’s own end, but Team Lidstrom, in red jerseys, could only convert once. Alex Gudbranson scored the team’s lone goal with less than five minutes to play on a rebound that found it’s way into the slot. Andreas Anthanasiou and Marek Tvrdon assisted. Mantha added his second goal with 1.5 seconds remaining, which was assisted by Michigan State Spartan Dean Chelios.
“Chelios made a great play at the end, it was just a little tap in,” Mantha said. “And the first one I don’t even remember so that’s how it counts to me. I was really focusing on my battles and my compete level.”
Despite the intensity level of the game, Blashill said that the scrimmage has to be “taken for what it is.”
“For me, it’s a starting point for some of the players and it gives me a look at some of the players that are probably going to go into Grand Rapids and have a chance to play so it’s a worthwhile activity.
“These are all guys who have a ton of ability and the chance to be good so we need to give them feedback so they can reach their highest potential. This was another step in that process.”