By Travis Betts
The Blue led 6-2 after a 50-minute scrimmage and held on in the ensuing skills competition, edging the Orange team 7-6 in the 2013 Rookie Scrimmage & Skills Competition Thursday at Nassau Coliseum. The two-part affair was the culmination of the annual Mini Camp, and included a scrimmage, shootout, hardest shot competition and team breakaway relay.
Ryan Strome notched a goal and two assists in the scrimmage, Jason Clark lit the lamp twice for the Blue team in regulation, while 2013 draftees Victor Crus Rydberg and Alan Quine wowed the fans during the shootout. Mike Dalhuisen of the Orange Team skated away with hardest shot honors, with two blasts clocked at 97 mph, while goaltender Eamon McAdam kept the Blue Team off the board long enough to win the breakaway relay.
Strome and the Blue Team got on the board first, wasting no time in giving the fans what they came to see. The Islanders first-round pick in 2011 won a race down the ice for the puck, pulled up hard and fed a trailing Joey Diamond in the slot to put the Blue team up 1-0.
Diamond’s goal proved to be the only tally of the first 25-minute period, as Blue goaltender Ken Reiter stopped all 20 shots faced. McAdam, the third round (70th overall) selection of the 2013 draft, turned aside 13-of-14 attempts during the opening frame at the other end of the ice.
Jason Clark kicked off a high-scoring second period for Blue one minute into the stanza, with Strome assisting on the marker. Crus Rydberg countered a minute-and-a-half later for Orange after receiving a pretty feed from Kyle Burroughs (2013, 7th round, 196th overall) in the slot.
Midway through the period, Diamond spun around a defender to find Strome in front, who extended Blue’s lead to 3-1.
Strome, who celebrated his 20th birthday Thursday, said his game has taken big strides since last year’s summer rookie game.
“Obviously points aren't everything and scoring a goal isn't everything, but I felt strong out there,” Strome said. “I felt I initiated a little bit of contact. There were a few things I needed to do, but at the same time I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. It's just a summer game, but I felt pretty good.”
With five minutes remaining, Colton Beck scored on a penalty shot for Orange to cut their deficit to one goal, but the Blue team pulled away down the stretch.
Riley Wetmore made the score 4-2 with a hard drive to the net from the right side. McAdam stopped the initial shot, but the rebound hit a body in front and trickled in. Clark netted his second goal of the night on a penalty shot, and Wetmore finished the regulation scoring with an empty-netter in the final minute, giving Blue a 6-2 edge heading into the skills portion of the evening.
Crus Rydberg led off the shootout for Orange with a between-the-legs, top-shelf goal, bringing the Coliseum crowd to its feet. It was the first time many in the stands had seen the move, though Crus Rydberg says he’s stunned audiences in Sweden with it in the past.
“I did it first back when I was 15 during a Super League game,” Crus Rydberg said. “I’ve tried to do it a few times since, but this time was the best.”
The closest rival to Crus Rydberg’s dazzling display was Quine, who countered seconds later with a one-handed goal. Quine bounced the puck back and forth between his stick and his right skate before putting it home with an out-stretched stick.
“I wouldn't try that when the game is on the line,” Quine said. “I just walked into it and put the puck behind me, pulled it through and put it off my skate and over to the other side for the one-hander.”
Brock Nelson scored in the third round for the Orange team. After the goaltender came out to cut off the angle, Nelson chipped the puck softly over the goal line. Each goal during the shootout counted as one toward the final score, so at the end of the shootout, Blue led 7-4.
In the hardest shot, Griffin Reinhart (91 mph), Andrey Pedan (91 mph) and Ryan Pulock (93 mph) all broke 90 mph on the radar gun, but the Orange team’s Mike Dalhuisen recorded the hardest two blasts, with each hitting 97 mph.
The final event was the Team Breakaway Competition, where seven pucks were lined up on the blue line and skaters from each team went one at a time in shootout fashion, with the quickest team to net all seven pucks being declared the winner. The goaltenders held the upper hand for the first few minutes, turning aside several valiant attempts, but Burroughs ended it with a top-shelf backhand to give the Orange team the final point.
Though Orange outscored Blue 4-1 in the skills competition, Blue held on for the 7-6 win. The players have one final practice Friday before heading their separate ways for the rest of the summer.