Columns & Blogs

Happy campers

It’s time to go camping, but there’s no need for sleeping bags and bug repellent.

The Tri-City Americans have sent six players to NHL camps. There are 150 Western Hockey League players headed to camp, with each of the 22 teams sending at least three players.

Tri-City defensemen Sam Grist (Philadelphia Flyers), Matt MacKenzie (Buffalo Sabres) and Zach Yuen (Winnipeg Jets), and forwards Patrick Holland (Calgary Flames), Adam Hughesman (New York Islanders) and Brendan Shinnimin (Phoenix Coyotes) have all departed for their respected camps. Their return dates are unknown.

Holland, MacKenzie and Yuen were drafted, while Grist, Hughesman and Shinnimin received free agent invites.

The Americans have seven players listed as going to a camp, but Carter Ashton (Tampa Bay) did not report to Tri-City’s main camp.

The Portland Winterhawks have a league-high 15 players attending camps, while Edmonton, Medicine and Saskatoon each have 10.

Hughesman, who is in his fifth year with the Americans, got a call late in the summer from the Islanders.

“I’m was very excited to get the call,” said Hughesman, who left Friday morning, as did most of his teammates. “I’ll go and make the most of the opportunity. I’m fortunate to be going to a camp. I’ll go and show them what I can do and play my game.”

Shinnimin, who went to the New York Rangers camp last year, took off for the desert Friday.

“The day after the draft, I got a call,” Shinnimin said. “Last year was my first camp and it was a learning experience. This year will be different. I’m not testing the waters, I’m jumping in and hoping to earn a contract.”

Yuen, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Jets in June, took off Friday for his first NHL camp.

“I’m excited,” Yuen said the night before he left. “There will be so many players there. It will be a different level of hockey. This is the next step in my career.”

Grist, who was eligible for the NHL draft in June but did not get drafted, got a call from the Flyers a week after the draft.

“I doesn’t bother me that I didn’t get drafted,” Grist said. “I’m going to a camp and that’s a good thing. I like Philly.”