By Nick Barnowski –
TRAVERSE CITY – The boys of summer weren’t on a baseball diamond on July 10 – they were in a hockey rink instead.
The Detroit Red Wings development camp continued Tuesday with a scrimmage at Centre Ice Arena.
Following an afternoon where the club honored fallen prospect Bryan Rufenach, Team Lidstrom skated away with a 6-5 victory after Landon Ferraro scored the game-winning goal in the shootout.
Led by Andreas Athanasiou and Brendan Smith, Team Lidstrom outshot Team Zetterberg 43-20 en route to victory.
Athanasiou, a 2012 fourth-round draft pick of the Red Wings, scored two goals while Smith added a power-play goal and two assists.
“I think I just went out there and tried to do the best I could,” Athanasiou said. “The first shift was brutal, I had the puck on the wall a couple of times and couldn’t even get it out but once I got the hand of it I kind of got better.”
After Mitch Callahan – fresh out of spending about an hour in the dunk tank before the game – scored the first goal about eight minutes in, Athanasiou responded by toe dragging around a defender and putting the puck in the top corner of the net past Team Zetterberg goaltender Petr Mrazek to tie the game.
From there, Team Zetterberg scored three goals in a row, including two that were 32 seconds apart, to make it a 4-2 game. Marek Tvrdon and Martin Frk assisted on each others’ goals to extend their lead, while Richard Nedomlel added an unassisted goal with 8:34 left in the second period.
A slick goal from Willie Coetzee – he batted a puck in the neutral zone out of mid air and then scored on Jake Paterson – made it 4-3 heading into the third period.
Smith scored the only power-play goal of the night five minutes into the third, Athanasiou added his second of the night, and Tomas Jurco capitalized on a Trevor Parkes turnover deep in his own zone to tie the game at five, sending it into a shootout.
“It was just a game where everyone was playing on the higher levels so it was good for us,” Jurco said. “It was great to play against great players and play with great players, so obviously it was a good experience for me.”
The scrimmage was a change of pace for the players, as it was the first chance for them to play in game-like situations during the camp.
“It was fun to be back in that competitive environment; surprisingly everyone was at a pretty fast pace,” forward Riley Sheahan said. “It was definitely fun to be in that pace of the game and to get back on the ice.”
The game was played in front of a packed arena, differing from the small crowds the practices draw.
“[The crowd] makes it a little more intense,” Sheahan said. “Everyone wants to show their stuff, makes the pace goes higher.”
For 2012 draft pick Mike McKee, the physicality of the game was surprising, yet created a tempo that seemed to never stop rising.
“At the end of the day you’re still competing for the same job and you gotta go out there and work your hardest,” the rookie defenseman said. “We have no hard feelings and at the end of the day we shake hands, and that’s it. It’s tough on your body but it’s a great experience.”
Overall, playing in Traverse City has been a positive environment for the skaters.
“Playing in the summer is a little weird, it took a while to get used to,” Athanasiou said. “The level of the intensity was really good and the compete level was really up there. It was a good game and it’s good that we won it.”