Abbotsford Update: Training Camp - Day 5
After bouncing around the Grand Rapids Griffins system last year, Adam Estoclet was loaned to the Abbotsford Heat in February. The club hoped the forward would be able to help boost their offensive production during a time where quite a few players were being called up by the injury-laden Flames.
The move paid off big time for the Heat and Estoclet.
In his first five games with the club, he notched six points and was put in a top-six role by the coaching staff, playing alongside Ben Walter and Hugh Jessiman for an extended period of time. He went on to play 25 regular season games for Abbotsford, scoring five goals and 15 points, and dressed for two postseason outings.
He credits his success in Abbotsford to the trust the coaching staff had in him and the time he spent in the ECHL before being loaned to the Heat.
"I was in Toledo before I came here. I got sent down from Grand Rapids, but it worked out great for me. I went down there, played a lot, gained a lot of confidence and played well."
One of the biggest differences Estoclet noticed about the Heat coaching staff came in their communication style. Troy Ward, Luke Strand and Cail MacLean are very connected with their players, acting as motivators and educators on a day-to-day basis.
"It's night and day from where I was before," Estoclet explained. "There wasn't a lot of communication before. Troy's really good. He talks man-to-man with every guy. He wants to see where you're at, what makes you comfortable, how you play your best and he brings it out of you."
The Heat liked what they saw out of Estoclet during his short stint with them in 2011-12 and signed the 23 year-old to a one-year, AHL deal on Aug. 1.
"I was excited to come back," Estoclet said of signing on with Abbotsford. "The guys are great here, the coaches are great. I hope it's a really great year for us."
The winger is facing some tough competition in camp this week but has already made an impression on Ward. After Tuesday's scrimmage, the bench boss singled out Estoclet's line as the most noticeable trio on the ice. Estoclet also set up the game winning goal, finding Tyler Ruegsegger in the slot and managing to get in the puck through a crowd.
"There's 45 guys in camp and only 22, 23 guys will make the team so everyone's battling hard every day. It's a great challenge ... I just have to go out there hard every day and have a great camp."
When Krys Kolanos headed into the Heat's training camp last fall on a tryout-agreement, many were speculative about the forward's mobility. He missed over a season recovering from hip surgery and while he spent the summer of 2011 working him back into game shape, the durability of his hip was still in question.
As it turned out, his hip was just fine. Kolanos went on to score 30 goals and 61 points with the Heat in 47 games and played his way into a two-year, two-way deal with the Flames.
The Calgary, AB product's training regimen this summer this drastically different than last year's as he isn't taking the precautions he did in 2011. Single leg strength training and plyometrics are now routine and the result is a quicker, more agile Kolanos.
His improved mobility and speed were on display on Tuesday afternoon during the Red vs. Black controlled scrimmage. Playing primarily with Max Reinhart, the 31 year-old easily kept up with his 20 year-old linemate and the pair routinely caused grief for Team Red.
"Krys, he's a special man and he trains a special way," Ward said after the scrimmage. "He's a little bit more settled into his body after last year and what he went through."
Another factor Ward pointed towards when asked about Kolanos' jump in the first half of camp came in the form what this camp means for the winger. Last year, Kolanos didn't attend an NHL training camp whereas this year, he is treating this week as an NHL camp. With the likes of Jay Feaster, John Weisbrod and Bob Hartley in the stands everyday, Kolanos knows this is his time to show the Flames brass how much he has developed over the last year.
"Krys wants to put his best foot forward. I think he was ready for camp and understood the magnitude of what was going to happen here."