The Halifax Mooseheads have taken extra measures to make sure everyone is in ship shape at training camp.
The Mooseheads have put the majority of their top roster hopefuls through rigorous fitness testing this month, bringing Quebec prospects to Montreal two weeks ago and Maritime prospects to Halifax last week for evaluation.
“We wanted to get a good gauge of where these guys are at a month before training camp,” said Mooseheads head coach and general manager Cam Russell. “If some guys aren’t where they should be, it gives us a chance to have a chat with them and make sure they’re (in shape) at training camp.”
The Mooseheads followed a format similar to the NHL Central Scouting combine, with tests including bench press, sit-and-reach for flexibility, vertical leap and VO2 max.
The tests will be repeated at training camp — which opens Aug. 19 at Cole Harbour Place — to give Russell and his staff an accurate read on what progress has been made.
Conditioning is a big part of the blueprint for Russell, who took over as general manager in January. He said the Mooseheads haven’t done off-season testing in the past.
“It’s something we all talked about from (owner) Bobby (Smith) right on down,” Russell said. “If we’re going to establish the staple of our team as hard-working, energy hockey, we’re going to have to be well-conditioned to do that.”
Russell said five weeks is plenty of time for players to improve their conditioning before training camp, but added that most of the testing results were favourable.
“Some of the 16-year-olds really surprised me,” Russell said. “Brent Andrews (the team’s first-round pick in June) bench-pressed 150 pounds 25 times and he’s also got a great VO2. We were pleasantly surprised with most of them and there were really none we were disappointed with.”
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The Halifax Mooseheads will hold training camp from Wednesday, Aug. 19, to Friday, Aug. 21, at Cole Harbour Place, with morning and evening scrimmages.
The camp roster will be divided into three teams, with 5-on-5 action running from 10 a.m. to noon in the morning and from 7 to 9 p.m. in the evening. The Mooseheads travel to Cornwall, P.E.I., on Saturday, Aug. 22, to open the exhibition season at 4 p.m. against the Prince Edward Island Rocket.
An alumni game (versus the Halifax Regional Police) is scheduled for Aug. 23 at 3:30 p.m. at the Forum, prior to the exhibition home-opener against the Rocket.