By: Alex Kinkopf
October 12, 2016 6:30 PM
A busy spell it was for the Roadrunners Wednesday; the team partook in morning workouts, hit the ice at Gila River Arena for a full two-hour early afternoon practice, and then cleaned up for head shots with Coyotes photographer Norm Hall and video clips with Amy Koeller to be used for in-arena and digital entertainment purposes throughout the season.
It’s safe to say the aggregates of the Coyotes’ farm system had a lot on their plate today as Friday’s regular season opener against the San Diego Gulls at the Valley View Casino Center edges ever so nearer.
The team is scheduled for a 9:00 – 10:00 AM Thursday morning skate in Glendale before promptly loading onto a bus to travel to San Diego.
Final rosters must be submitted to the American Hockey League for approval by 11:59 PM EST on Thursday; Roadrunners hockey operations staff noted that the Roadrunners’ opening night roster would be finalized early in the day.
As for Wednesday’s twirl on Gila River Arena’s crisp sheet, which is oh so beautifully back dropped by the building’s gorgeous get-up of mountainous brick-red seats, there were no changes to the lines used during Tuesday’s practice. Again, skating in color-coded practice jerseys, Mark Lamb and Mark Hardy’s group of players aligned as such:
RED: BRENDAN PERLINI – CHRIS MUELLER – CRAIG CUNNINGHAM
WHITE: GARRET ROSS – RYAN MACINNIS – CHRISTIAN FISCHER – TREVOR CHEEK
GREY: MICHAEL BUNTING – TYLER GAUDET – CONOR GARLAND
BLUE: ERIC SELLECK – MARK OLVER – STEFAN FOURNIER – MATIA MARCANTUONI
DAKOTA MERMIS – ANTHONY DEANGELO
BRANDON BURLON – KYLE WOOD
JUSTIN HACHE – DYSIN MAYO
While the club gratefully utilizes the facilities lent by the Coyotes as Tucson Arena hosts previously booked tenants, the team has wasted no time or space in making final preparations for Friday’s opener. “We’re kind of cramming right now, it feels like that, but cramming in a good way,” said Head Coach Mark Lamb following Wednesday’s skate. “We had a couple of days off, we had that [Red/White scrimmage] down in Tucson, I thought it was real good, then we had an organizational get together on the day off after that, and then we had to travel [to Glendale] and practice here, so it’s been really crammed.”
As far as worries considering the team’s conditioning goes, those should be almost non-existent the way the pace and intensity of the week’s practices have gone. For the coaches, it’s about fine-tuning those hockey legs into a cohesive systematic approach. “The first practice, we had a real hard-working practice, and today we put some more system play – power play, penalty killing into the practice,” said Lamb. “We’ve gotten a lot accomplished, we’ll have another practice tomorrow, and then it’s game day. We’ll do the same type of thing [Thursday], add a couple of things, and then the way the team’s shaping up, our team is going to be different than it was for the final preseason game, in a good way. The last guys that get sent down [from Arizona] are pretty good players, they showed very well with the top team, so they’re great additions to our team, it gives us a lot more skill and more balance. “
There’s a fine line between analyzing practice situations and performances from those of a live, standings-relevant game, however. Friday’s opener won’t only provide a first look at the Roadrunners’ roster in a game setting, but a feel for where the coaching staff must address their focus on in the coming weeks. “It’s going to tell us a lot,” Lamb said of Friday’s first game. “It’ll give us a good gauge of how we practice that next week and what we have to do, get a feel of the league. We’ve got a lot of young players that are going to – they’ll be nervous, it’s pro hockey now, everything is different – bigger, stronger, faster, those are the words you always hear, and it’s so true. [The pros] think quicker, they skate quicker, they’re tougher, they’re bigger, so it’s going to be good to get into that game, even more myself, to get a feel of the team. I’m getting a better feel of the team every day, getting to know the personalities, having some one-on-one meetings, and I think that’s a very important part of the team for myself.”
The team is stationed in Glendale for one more night, taking time to relax and recoup from what was a very, very full day of workouts, on-ice assessment, and digital operations.
A very happy Wednesday to you all; Leave here with a handful of photos from today’s practice, team headshots, and green screen video shoots: