Colts look to narrow down their roster
“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.”
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.