An Ontario Hockey League training camp isn't just about the fleet of draft picks on hand trying to make an impression on the watching eyes from above.
Case in point is defenceman Emmett Gordon, who split last season between the Kingston Frontenacs and their affiliate team, the Kingston Voyageurs of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Gordon essentially had partial playing status last year, dressing for 18 games while being a healthy scratch for another dozen games or so.
The 17-year-old from Toronto is looking to upgrade his role on the Frontenacs in his second training camp. With the departure of veterans Stephen Desrocher and Nathan Billitier off the Frontenacs defence, there are going to be more playing minutes available for returning players like Gordon and Jakob Brahaney.
"I am coming in with a fresh mindset to show what I can do and hopefully step up my role. With the new coaching staff, training camp is really their first look at us on the ice and in the gym, seeing our physical ability," Gordon said.
"It is definitely an opportunity to start fresh and show them what you have [and] hopefully get a bigger role."
The six-foot, 180-pound Gordon spent the summer working out knowing there would be a good opportunity for him at training camp.
"A great summer full of training five days a week in the gym and another three or four days, depending on the week, on ice getting ready," Gordon said.
"Hopefully, it will be a good [season] -- like last year but get further in the playoffs. Definitely show some teams up that don't think we can do as well as we know we can. Just get after it this year."
On Tuesday, Gordon and his Team Black teammates were first up in doing a one-hour practice session while Team Gold and Team White scrimmaged.
Gordon was the fastest player in his group in a grueling sequence of sprint skating. He was good on one-on-one drills, keeping the forwards off balance and distanced from his goaltender. Gordon also delivered the biggest check of the practice, taking Griffen Fox to the ice.
Gordon stopped short of saying his second go-around at an OHL training camp was easier -- "just because it's a new coaching staff, so you still have to show what you've got the same as last year coming as a rookie -- but does feel the time spent with the Voyageurs last season was good for him.
"It definitely helped me. I learned a lot and it helped me build myself for coming back up to the Frontenacs for [this season]. It helped me in the long run," Gordon said.
Team Black will have scrimmages Wednesday against both Team Gold and Team White, after which some cuts will come to get camp down to more workable numbers for head coach Jay Varady.
"I am looking forward to Friday [and an exhibition game against the Oshawa Generals at the Rogers K-Rock Centre]. There will be a few butterflies, but I am sure when I step out on the ice they will go away. Just looking forward to getting out with a new group of guys and hopefully get a win," Gordon said.
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