Hockey was back. Then, it was gone in a flash.
The last three afternoons were filled with hockey; real, live hockey. Fans escaped the scorching mid-July heat and entered the frozen oasis known as the Ice Den. The main rink became a melting pot of Coyotes prospects old and new. Max Domi dangled, Mark Visentin saved and Connor Murphy solidified himself as one of the best defensemen in the system.
Day three of the on-ice portion of prospect development camp consisted mostly of scrimmages. The sides played 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 as well as practicing the power play and penalty kill. Team Red and Team White tied each other in both of the even-strength drills. Brandon Gormley, Darian Dziurzynski and Zac Larraza scored for the Red team while Lucas Lessio, Philip Lane and Murphy scored for the White team.
The final on-ice session of camp ended with a team wide shootout. Dziurzynski became the 2013 shootout champion of development camp after scoring on all three of his attempts.
Domi played mostly center again on Thursday creating a few scoring opportunities and winning 80 percent of his face-offs during the scrimmage. He lost control of the puck in his only shootout attempt drawing a collective sigh from the crowd.
The Ice Den was packed with fans yet again, a fact that was not lost on the players. Gormley, who's in his fourth development camp with the Yotes, said the fan support was "unbelievable."
*The following is based on the author's observations while attending all three days of camp.*
1. Max Domi - The 18-year-old was solid all three days of camp as he made plays from both the LW and C positions as well as holding his own in the face-off circle.
2. Lucas Lessio - Strong play all around for the speedy, physical forward. He knows what to do with the puck in all three zones and can finish his checks as well as he can put the puck in the net.
3. Yan-Pavel Laplante - Always around the net and in the right spots in the offensive zone.
1. Connor Murphy - The real standout of camp was Murphy. He showed skill in both the offensive and defensive zones. He scored a goal in each scrimmage but played even better in his own end. Anchored by strong body position, the 20-year-old was the best overall player of prospect camp.
2. Brandon Gormley - The 21-year-old had another solid camp as his best play came in the game-like drills and scrimmages. There is a log jam in front of him on the depth chart, but he could very well see NHL time next season.
1. Mark Visentin - Visentin allowed only one goal in two combined days of scrimmage. His strong play in the shootout portions of practice gave him a slight edge over Louis Domingue, who played equally as well in the scrimmages.
Best Free Agents:
1. Taylor Burke - Of all the free agents invited (10 total), Burke stood out the most. Strong play on the boards and in the offensive zone lead to this ranking. Is it enough to earn him a contract? Only Don Maloney can answer that.
2. Josh Currie - The former P.E.I. Rocket captain earned an invite to camp after scoring 49 goals and 104 points in the QMJHL last season. Currie was strong in the face-off dot and played well in the offensive zone.