A trio of Prince Albert Raiders are back from NHL development camps, eager to use what they’ve learned to improve upon last season.
Goalie Ian Scott participated in Toronto’s development camp, returning to his Calgary home Wednesday. Scott was drafted in the fourth round in last month’s NHL entry draft.
While defenceman Brayden Pachal and forward Parker Kelly have yet to be drafted by an NHL team, both were invited to Ottawa’s development camp earlier this month.
Friday, the players reflected on their experiences.
“It was exciting. It was a dream come true to get drafted and go to development camp,” Scott said.
“To have the opportunity to put the logo on your shirt or your jersey is definitely cool. I learned lots there.”
Scott spent much of development camp with the Maple Leaf’s 2016 goalie draft pick – Joseph ‘Brick’ Woll.
In an interview with TSN, the two players spoke about what it was like getting to know each other in development camp.
“He’s a really nice kid,” Woll said of Scott. “Since we’re the only goalies drafted, we get to spend a lot of time together. Hopefully one day we’ll get to play together.”
Scott was watching Woll carefully and picking up what he could.
“He’s a great guy and he’s a great goalie. There are so many things I can learn from him,” Scott said. “Just how relaxed he is. That’s something I can watch and get myself doing too, just to calm the game down.”
Scott also told Leafs TV that he has spent his offseason bulking up, getting faster and stronger, while also recovering from what he called a “mentally tough” season.
“I was pretty much just sick of losing,” he told reporters. “It wears on you. I don’t like losing. It was tough. (But) I think it helps me out in the long run, being able to bounce back from tough games or tough stretches, and just have that resilience.”
Scott said he tried to learn as much as he could from his first development camp, both to carry forward to the Raiders and to return next year as a better player.
“They touched on some things I can take in, like tracking (the puck) and a little bit on the mental side of the game,” Scott said. “I think it’ll definitely help going forward if I keep working on it.”
Toronto, he said, will be keeping an eye on his progress.
“A lot of it just comes down to focusing on the Raiders and having a good season. I think my big focus this year is to win some more games with the Raiders.”
Over in Ottawa, Pachal stuck with Kelly for the first few days as they got comfortable.
“It helped us to get to know the guys together. It was good to have a familiar face there,” he said.
Like Scott, Pachal called the experience “amazing.” He learned a lot about what it takes to be an NHL-calibre player.
“It was an eye-opener to see how professional those guys are, and how good those guys are,” he said. “And to see where I have to get if I want to play professionally.”
The coaching staff in Ottawa gave Pachal a few things to work on. Pachal said he hopes to continue improving every year.
One of the key lessons was just how hard NHL players work.
“You know they never give up. It was quire amazing actually,” he said. “When you watch the NHL on T, you see how hard those guys go. But when you’re on the ice – it’s eye-opening how hard they battle and how hard they compete.”
Kelly’s takeaway was similar. He knows he has to get stronger, but he also now knows what it takes to be a professional.
“I think one of the biggest things was how they handle themselves,” he said,” how to represent yourself on and off that ice. That was something I need to learn.”
The players’ outlooks on hockey have changed. The lessons should serve them well this season.
“Ottawa taught us and taught me a lot,” Pachal said.
“Heading into next year, I’m sure we can take our experiences there and transfer them over to P.A.