Rookie camp stint valu­able

Lethbridge Herald - - HERALD SPORTS - Dale Woodard LETH­BRIDGE HER­ALD

It was a Wild ex­pe­ri­ence that Gior­gio Estephan can now take back to Leth­bridge. As the Leth­bridge Hur­ri­canes ran through prac­tice Thurs­day af­ter­noon at the En­max Cen­tre, the 20-year-old cen­tre was back with this team­mates, fresh off his ap­pear­ance at the Min­nesota Wild’s rookie camp.

Fel­low Canes team­mate and de­fence­man Bren­nan Menell is still in Min­nesota and off to the team’s main camp be­gin­ning this week­end, but the rookie camp was noneth­less a valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence for Estephan.

“It’s fun play­ing in the rookie tour­na­ments like Tra­verse City,” said Estephan, whose team heads to the Crowsnest Pass tonight to take on the Koote­nay Ice in their fi­nal ex­hi­bi­tion game be­fore their sea­son opener next Fri­day. “There are a lot of teams and prospects that are com­pet­i­tive. It’s def­i­nitely a com­pet­i­tive space to be in and it’s ex­cit­ing. I think I showed my­self the best that I could and I think there was a lot to take out of it.”

Now, last year’s sec­ond-lead­ing scorer with 35 goals and 89 points in 68 games takes some of those lessons back to south­ern Al­berta to help the Canes build on their 41-win sea­son that pro­pelled them to the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal last spring.

“We’ve been get­ting bet­ter every year,” said Estephan. “So we have high hopes for this year. We have a good group in here and we’re go­ing to make a run at the cham­pi­onship, that’s ev­ery­thing we want to do.”

They’ll at­tempt that with a good chunk of last year’s ros­ter as well.

“Def­i­nitely any time you get can get a lot of play­ers back af­ter the sea­son we had last year, it’s some­thing spe­cial to keep build­ing on, the years those guys had and pro­gress­ing from the year be­fore,” said Estephan. “A cou­ple of the new guys, like (Dy­lan) Cozens, is go­ing to be re­ally good for us. (Calen) Ad­di­son played in his first year last year and it go­ing to be re­ally good for us this year. A lot of the new guys com­ing in will have a feel­ing-out pe­riod, but I think they’ll adapt quickly.”

Game time tonight is 7 p.m.

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