BRYAN WILSON – 10.01.2023
At long last, Wranglers training camp is underway. ￼
Opening day featured some familiar faces, and a few new ones, all sporting the red ‘W’ on their jersey at Winsport on Sunday morning.
Many of the skaters, such as Rory Kerins, Ilya Nikolaev, William Stromgren, Parker Bell, Mark Duarte and Connor Gourley (among others), have been in ‘camp mode’ for a while now – since the Young Stars Classic in mid-September and then Flames main camp last week.
In contrast, other players are participating in their first pro camp and will start getting familiarized with the new systems, and with each other.
Head coach, Trent Cull – who is embarking on his first campaign behind the Wranglers bench – wants to keep the message simple early on.
“Just work,” said Cull. “Right now there’s a lot of guys we haven’t seen, so we want to get familiar with them. I expect everybody to work. I expect our work ethic to be really good … just start building good habits.”
As the Flames continue to trim down their main camp roster, Cull expects to see more players assigned to the Wranglers in the coming days. With the start of the AHL season just 10 days out, the sooner everyone can start ‘rowing in the same direction,’ the better.
“The more similar we can play (whether in the NHL, AHL or ECHL) and to have the same mindset and use the same terminology, the easier it is for our players to go out and just worry about playing,” Cull explained.
“We just want to make it instinctual throughout the whole organization.”
Cull is cognizant of the mixed emotions that can be felt at first, as players filter in from their time at NHL camp. However, circumstances can change quickly in pro hockey, and he expects his players to be ready to go whenever the next opportunity presents itself.
“You treat them with respect, talk to them a little bit,” shared Cull, when asked about keeping players positive and focused. “But we’re in a fast-paced world, so there’s no time to daydream or get lost on things, it’s just right back to work.”