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2019 VGK Development Camp

Steve Marcus

Players listen to a coach during Vegas Golden Knights development camp at City National Arena in Summerlin Wednesday, June 26, 2019.

Every coach says some version of the same thing: They can watch players in drills all day but can’t truly evaluate without game action.

That’s what make the three on-ice scrimmages at the end of Vegas Golden Knights’ development camp so important. After three days of drills, Vegas simulated games Thursday and Friday with one final scrimmage set for 9 a.m. this morning at City National Arena.

“You see a skillset in drills but in a game, you see hockey sense, you see reading and reacting and the competitiveness,” Golden Knights assistant coach Mike Kelly said. “Obviously we don’t put a team together to practice, ultimately it’s to play so it’s the most important.”

Through two scrimmages, things have gone mostly according to plan. The three-year camp players and the high draft picks have grabbed attention — not to mention goals — while some of the free agents have shown flashes of their own.

Cody Glass, Vegas’ top prospect and one of the best players outside of the NHL, was hilariously dominant playing half a game on a line with Jonas Rondbjerg and Jack Dugan before leaving the game for precautionary reasons. All three were 2017 draft picks and played almost all of their shifts in the offensive zone.

“We’ve never played together, but I think we had chemistry there,” Rondbjerg said. “Unfortunate that Cody had to go out, but it was fun.”

Players and coaches often say it’s tough to replicate game action and intensity in practice, but the Golden Knights are doing their best. This season, the scrimmages have been full games with three 20-minute periods instead of the more typical simulation of specific simulations.

“We’ve been here for four days now, we skate twice a day, once a day, practice two sessions,” Dugan said. “Drills are drills but when you get out there it’s way more fun.”

The fun can’t be overstated. Dugan grabbed a puck out the air and accidentally threw it in the net smiling as he skated away while the goal was waved off. Goalie Jiri Patera looked to jokingly plead with a ref when a puck was whistled dead before he could shoot on an empty net.

Of course, the team is interested in the game to get a better look at its personnel, but the players also prefer to get as close to game action as possible.

“The first part of the week you’re out there learning new things trying to get better, and then you immediately get an opportunity to try to put some of those things you learned throughout the week to use,” defenseman Nicolas Hague said. “I always have a blast.”

Article written by #LasVegasSun