Prospects who attended the week-long Dallas Stars development camp packed up and headed home Thursday, but the team hopes the players took a lot of information with them.
“It’s education,” said Jackson. “For the first year players it’s orientation, get to know a little bit about our coaching staff and our styles. For other guys, it’s follow up. For a number of guys, they’ve been here. It’s finding out where they are at in their development as far as strength and conditioning. The on-ice stuff is tremendous. It’s all teaching details of the skill. We’ve been able to touch a lot of areas of the game to help them advance.”
Areas that players can continue to work on as they work out over the summer to prepare for training camp, whether it is with the Stars or somewhere else. There were off-ice workouts and training guidance. And of there was a lot of work on the ice.
“There are drills we can do over the summer to get better,” said Stars defense prospect Hubert Labrie. “Work on moving your feet and keeping your head up when you have the puck.”
A lot of the drills took the players outside their comfort zone, and had them work on areas that weren’t exactly their strengths. This was forward Matt Fraser’s first time at Dallas’ camp, but he’s been to a camp with the Vancouver Canucks before and knows the work pays dividends.
“I’ve been telling a lot of management that I went to Vancouver’s camp last year and it’s amazing to see the difference this year,” said Fraser, who signed with the Stars as a free agent last fall. “A lot of this is working on your stickhandling, your skills and your shooting and really shows you the areas you need to improve on and areas that you do well. If you want to play in the NHL, you’ve got to improve every day. Some drills take you out of your comfort zone, but that’s just part of it.”
The players are tested in different areas. The word is that defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, the Stars’ first round pick (14th overall) in this summer’s draft, was among the most efficient skaters at the camp. Prospects also get feedback from GM Joe Nieuwendyk and others on the Stars’ staff.
“Keep working on your quick feet and keep working on your hands. Little things that are going to make a difference in the long run,” said forward Alex Chiasson, a second round pick (38th overall) in 2009 and a development camp veteran. “I am a big guy and if I make it to the NHL I am going to be a guy that is working down low, so just the little things that are going to help me in college and transfer to the bigger game later.”
For a player like forward Brett Ritchie, the team’s second round pick (44th overall) in this summer’s draft, it also was an opportunity to experience a professional level camp.
“It’s a lot different than what you find in a junior camp or the OHL. These guys are a so much closer to playing pro and some of them are playing pro in the AHL. The caliber is so much higher,” Ritchie said. “You see how hard these guys work, especially the guys that are playing pro right now. Playing in these high tempo drills, you are going to try to take that speed, that tempo back to your junior team and hopefully get better quicker.”
Camp a great experience for Richardson’s Adriano Mungioli
The development camp also featured several players that are not in the Dallas system. Four of them were kids born in the Dallas area, including Adriano Mungioli.
“It’s amazing, especially since it’s the Dallas Stars camp. It’s my hometown. It’s my dream to play here,” said Mungioli. “It’s awesome to see all the guys that are up and coming in the organization.”
Mungioli, an 18-year-old Richardson native, grew up a Stars fan and played with the Highland Park Scots program before moving to Canada at age 14 to further his career. He spent time at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, British Columbia and two years at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, British Columbia.
Last season he played Junior B hockey with the Penticton Lakers of the KIJHL. Next season he is hoping to land a spot with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL, and after that maybe college hockey. The word is he’s on the radar of Cornell, Yale or Princeton.
The Dallas camp was a good measuring stick for the skilled, crafty Mungioli, who is listed at 5-9, 175 pounds, and models his style of play on Stars center Mike Ribeiro.
“I am a younger guy here, so it’s a chance to play against some older, better guys, and develop,” he said. “It’s good.”
And it’s a good opportunity to work on his skills. Like the other prospects, it was time to take a trip outside his comfort zone in some of the drills.
“That’s what this whole camp’s theme is – get outside your comfort zone, practice at the things you aren’t strong at so you can get better,” Mungioli said.
While the Dallas camp was a new experience for Mungioli, some of the faces were familiar. He’s spent time working out with the Stars strength and conditioning coach J.J. McQueen.
“He’s tough,” Mungioli said. “He puts you through a lot of stuff and sometimes he’ll have you crawling on your hands and knees after workouts, but it is good.”
The camp was a good as well for the kid who grew up a Stars fan and got a chance to play with some of the team’s top prospects and in front of the team’s management and coaching staff.
“I’ve loved the Stars. We’ve had season tickets. I used to watch them all the time,” Mungioli said. “It’s awesome to actually be here and play with them. It’s actually pretty surreal.”