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First Steps

On a sunny Friday afternoon 24 young prospects ventured into Rogers Place eager to impress at the 2017 Edmonton Oil Kings Spring Development Camp.

This past weekend saw the prospects go through fitness evaluations, on-ice skills sessions, skating drills, education seminars and of course…fun! In fact one might argue that Head Coach Steve Hamilton had the most fun as he was all smiles throughout the weekend.

“It’s so great to have guys around the locker room again,” said Hamilton. “Certainly the enthusiasm of our young players is pretty contagious.”

20170529_first1The 21 skaters and three goaltenders registered Friday afternoon and prepared for the fitness evaluations, which were held in the Edmonton Oilers state-of-the-art training centre inside Rogers Place.

The Oil Kings Athletic Training Team from Body By Bennett led the prospects through various testing such as pull-ups, broad jumps, progility exercises and the dreaded 300-yard sprint.

“It was awesome to see,” said forward Liam Keeler. “It was probably one of the best experiences I have ever had, outside of playing with the team of course.”

After the first day of camp, the prospects joined their parents and the Oil Kings coaching staff for a welcome reception at Curve Restaurant inside Rogers Place on Friday evening where everyone could meet and get to know one another off the ice.

Saturday morning brought more fun stuff; on-ice sessions with Coach Hamilton and his crew.

“It was such a good weekend. I think this group has handled themselves very well and very maturely. You see a noticeable growth in the returnees as they prepare for their 16-year-old season,” said Hamilton. “You can see a notch more maturity and preparedness as they look forward to camp in the fall.”

The Oil Kings first round draft pick from 2017, Jake Neighbours, thought the drills were a great learning tool and introduction to the organization.

“My first camp experience was amazing. Practices were high tempo with a lot of compete out there,” said Neighbours. “It’s a great group of guys that all work really hard so it was a lot of fun.”

Liam Keeler echoed Neighbours’ thoughts adding that the weekend was an invaluable learning experience.

20170529_first3“It was a great time for everyone. For myself I was able to take on a leadership role and just help the younger guys through it. I have gained a lot of experience from the games I was part of and I just wanted to pass that down to some of the new prospects,” shared Keeler.

Following Day 2, the players and their parents were treated to a Rogers Place tour followed by important nutritional messaging from Oil Kings Strength & Conditioning Coach Eric Kebernik.

On the third and final day, Oil Kings Skating Coach David Pelletier ran the prospects through some rather tough skating drills. Pelletier, a gold medal medallist in figure skating at the 2002 WinterOlympic Games, demonstrated the drills with ease.

“The skating drills were unique and really challenging,” said Neighbours.“Coach Pelletier seems like a really great skating coach. This level of teaching and skating should develop our players a lot because some of those drills – wow – they were hard to do.”

The day ended with an intense and fun three-on-three tournament, and a shootout for bragging rights, although the three goaltenders; Boston Bilouis, Sebastian Cossa and Braden Potter continuously shut the doors during the shootout prompting Hamilton to finally call the winning goal while the zamboni began to circle the ice.

All 24 prospects have now headed home to focus on their training and applying their new-found knowledge from Development Camp into their routines to be prepared for an even higher level Rookie Camp in August. Many prospects will work hard to crack the roster.

“I want to make the team and be an impact player,” said Keeler.

“That’s my main goal. I’ve been working really hard and I felt great out here. I just want to make an impact on the team.”

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