That first training camp experience is always a memorable one.
For Hitmen prospects David Adaszynski and Carter Yakemchuk, they had to wait a bit longer than usual after being selected in the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft with no formal camp setting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only was this past weekend their first taste of what training camp had to offer it also was big opportunity to try make an impression.
“It was a great experience and an eye-opener,” Adaszynski said. “It was my first real test coming here since everything was closed down for a while and it was great to be here with the guys battling and competing hard. I want to make sure all the hard work pays off, get ready for pre-season and do everything I can to earn a spot.
“First and foremost I want to make the team,” Yakemchuk said. “That’s always been the goal and being here has been a lot of fun and a great opportunity. There were some nerves in the first scrimmage, it definitely took a few minutes to settle down but it was great and awesome to play against so many talented players.”
Yakemchuk, selected in the third round 65th overall, is a mobile two-way defenceman who isn’t afraid to join or lead the rush while still being reliable in his own end. The rearguard showed his offensive instincts with a couple of goals during the scrimmages. In the 2019/20 campaign with the Calgary Flames U15 AAA club, he recorded 28 points (7G, 21A) in 32 games.
“I’ve been working on trying to get in the best shape I can to help make that next jump,” he said. “I spent a lot of time in the gym and in the rink working on everything to round out my game, and focused in on getting my speed up. It’s a very fast league and you need to be able to keep up in order to be successful.
Adaszynski, selected 112th overall in the sixth round, is a skillful forward who through the scrimmages more often than not has been driving the play looking to set up teammates while burying four goals. Back in the 2019/20 season with the Burnaby Winter Club U15 Prep, his last full season, he tallied an impressive 40 points in 29 games highlighted with 25 goals.
“Since I was drafted I feel like my confidence with the puck has gone up,” he said. I feel more comfortable skating with it up and down the ice in all zones and feel like my game has grown a lot overall.
“I was in the gym five days a week to get my strength and conditioning up and on the ice just as much to prepare for camp to put my best foot forward.
So overall, what was their favourite part of training camp?
“Being in an NHL rink is unbelievable,” Adaszynski said. “It’s different than what I am used to for sure, when we went out for the first skate I couldn’t help but take a moment to look around and see all the seats, the lights, everything about it. It’s so cool.
“I grew up watching games at the ‘Dome,” Yakemchuk said. “You dream of skating on big ice like this and to go from watching games to now actually being here skating on it is unbelievable and definitely an experience unlike anything.”