Colts look to nar­row down their ros­ter

The Barrie Examiner - - SPORTS -

“We’re hop­ing he can do that and bring some big en­ergy to that po­si­tion,” he added. “Of course, we’ve seen him steal games. When he gets on a roll, he’s tough to beat.”

TheColt­sal­sos­till­have16­for­wards re­main­ing in camp, but that num­ber will be trimmed down. How soon de­pends on when Alexey Li­panov (Tampa Bay), Ben Haw­er­chuk (Cal­gary) and Joey Keane (Chicago) return from NHL rookie camps.

“Yeah, we’ll prob­a­bly make a cou­ple of (moves up front),” Haw­er­chuk said. “Same thing, we want to get through the week­end and see when we get our three NHL guys back. We’ve got three games, so we can play some dif­fer­ent peo­ple and make some as­sess­ments af­ter that.”

The Colts have 18 pos­si­ble re­turnees along with a skilled rookie group that in­cludes first-over­all OHL pick Ryan Suzuki and Rus­sian im­port stand­outs An­drei Svech­nikov and Li­panov.

“We’re still pretty young, but it’s a hun­gry group,” said Haw­er­chuk, whose cur­rent ros­ter boasts just eight play­ers with more than one year of OHL ex­pe­ri­ence. “The guys got some mileage last year and of course the new guys com­ing in kind of added to the tal­ent base.

“Again it’s a com­pe­ti­tion, but it’s kind of a friendly com­pe­ti­tion within,” he added. “The more guys push, the more they’ll get bet­ter.”

Other rookie for­wards, such as Luke Bignell and Sam Rhodes, have also made their mark in camp.

“They all have their qual­i­ties as play­ers, so we feel there’s a pretty good mix,” Haw­er­chuk said. “A lit­tle bit of sand­pa­per, some skill and some speed. Now it’s just a ques­tion of hope­fully get­ting every­body here to­gether and we can cre­ate some chem­istry within the group.”

The de­fence ap­pears set with rook­ies Nathan Al­lensen, Vic­tor Had­field and Matthew Hill pos­si­bly ready to chal­lenge a group of five re­turnees for ice time.

“I like what I see from them,” Haw­er­chuk said of that trio. “It gives us good depth there, so it’s a good prob­lem to have.”

Game time Thurs­day against Ni­a­gara is 7:30 p.m.

Haw­er­chuk got to put on his dad hat this past week­end and proudly watch both of his sons ex­cel in their re­spec­tive sports. Older son Eric, 28, a Macken­zie Tour-PGA Tour Canada mem­ber, teed off in the in­au­gu­ral On­tario Cham­pi­onship at the Na­tional Pines Golf Club in In­n­is­fil, while younger son Ben, 19, was in­vited to the Cal­gary Flames NHL rookie camp.

“I saw (Eric) play af­ter watch­ing Ben play on TV. It’s been fam­ily week,” the proud dad said, adding a chuckle.

Watch­ing Ben lace up with the Flames was a great mo­ment said the for­mer Hockey Hall of Famer. He’s watched his son work hard to go from a fourth-liner in Bar­rie to a some­one play­ing a key role with a lot of con­fi­dence now.

It only seemed like yes­ter­day when Ben and Eric were kids and here they are now set­ting out on their own re­spec­tive paths in the sports they love.

“Yeah they are, but I’m still king of the ten­nis court,” Haw­er­chuk said with a laugh. “It’s the only thing I’ve got left. It’s amaz­ing how fast time goes.

“I can re­mem­ber just start­ing to coach here, Ben run­ning around like a lit­tle kid in the dress­ing room and the next thing you know here he is play­ing a big role for us.”

MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

Bar­rie Colts for­ward Alexey Li­panov moves in for a check dur­ing a re­cent prac­tice at the Bar­rie Mol­son Cen­tre. The Tampa Bay Light­ning prospect has been away from the Bar­rie team to at­tend NHL rookie camp.

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