Hockey season is officially underway in Central Texas.
The Texas Stars hosted their first practice of training camp Wednesday morning at the Cedar Park Center. Texas had 19 skaters at the first practice (13 forwards, six defensemen), while Cameron Gaunce will likely bring that number up to 20 for the 2 p.m. skate after clearing waivers and officially being sent down to the AHL this morning.
There wasn’t too much to write about from the first practice. It was mostly drills and line rushes, followed up by a short four-on-four game simulation with the nets set up at the blue lines.
I would expect more game situations in the practice this afternoon.
Other than a couple practices last year, I didn’t get to see much of Brock Montgomery before Tuesday morning.
At 6-foot-2, 215 Montgomery has pretty good size and has a quick release on his heavy wrist shot. He worked well on a line with Francis Wathier and Taylor Vause, granted it wasn’t the most telling practice, but I’m looking forward to seeing him play in game situations.
I also caught up with Montgomery after practice. Really good interview and a player who I think has taken the most of his opportunities (practiced with Texas during playoffs, in Dallas for training camp) since finishing his junior season with the Kootenay Ice in the WHL last season.
(I’ll have more on the Montgomery interview later this evening.)
Brad Ralph gets early look at potential Steelheads
Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph was on the ice Tuesday working with the Texas Stars. Ralph may actually be able to learn more about his team in the first three days of camp then Texas Stars coach Willie Desjardins — who will have a number of late additions, 12 current or likely Texas Stars are still on Dallas’ roster for pre-season.
In particular that puts more at stake for goaltenders Pat Nagle and Josh Robinson. While neither will likely play for Texas (barring injury), the competition for the starting job in Idaho started Wednesday at the CPC.
McKenzie working on defense
With 13 forwards left winger Curtis McKenzie worked as a defenseman during the first practice. McKenzie was paired up with Hubert Labrie for most of the practice, even though the defensive pairings were more fluid than the forward combinations, which stayed pretty consistent for the entire practice.
Here were the lines in practice:
Mike Hedden-Justin Dowling-William Rapuzzi
Spencer Bennet-Anthony Nigro-Brendan Ranford
Justin Mercier-Toby Petersen-Taylor Peters
Francis Wathier-Brock Mongomery-Taylor Vause
Ryan Button-William Wrenn
Tyler Elbrecht-Ryan Hegarty
Curtis McKenzie-Hubert Labrie