Dino sinks his teeth into training camp experience
CALGARY, AB -- It’s not the first time University of Calgary Dinos captain Brock Nixon has skated on Scotiabank Saddledome ice.
But taking to the ice Monday will definitely stand out as one of the more memorable of his career.
Once a member of the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen – who share the same sheet as the Calgary Flames – Nixon suited up as an extra body for the Flames first scrimmage of camp.
“It was a great opportunity, the chance to skate with these guys,” Nixon said, who played the final 29 games of his junior career with the Hitmen. “They’re a little low on numbers with a couple of injuries and stuff. It was fun out there. Obviously a little bit out of place for me but I think I held my own out there enough to do ok. It was a lot of fun. The guys were really welcoming. It was a good experience.
“The chance to get out there, I wasn’t going to pass that up.”
What Nixon was willing to pass on was becoming an overly physical presence in the short scrimmage. With nothing on the line for the Russell, Man. product, Nixon didn’t feel the need to bang bodies with members of the Flames.
“You hit a guy and he happens to catch an edge or something, you don’t want to be that guy whose just in to fill a spot and have one of these guys who are fighting for jobs to have them go down,” said Nixon, who shares the scoring lead on the Dinos with 23 points in 20 games. “I just tried to play my position and do whatever I could out there.”
It wasn’t the first time Nixon and the Dinos have been have skated alongside members of the Flames.
Dinos head coach Mark Howell and assistant Cory Cross routinely ran practices for NHLPA players remaining in Calgary over the course of the lockout, which increased in frequency and intensity as a new collective bargaining agreement drew near.
A few Dinos, Nixon included, got to reap the benefit then as well.
“Our coaches and our team were running some practices for a bunch of the Flames guys earlier and before Christmas too,” Nixon said. “We got a chance, a couple of us, to go out there a little bit. It’s a pretty cool experience to see just how good those guys are you see on TV. It’s pretty cool to be on the same sheet as them.”
Nixon admitted the pace in camp displayed more jump than anything he’s seen before, including those informal skates.
“It was definitely a lot faster than anything I’ve been used to,” he said. “These guys are fighting for jobs, fighting for spots in the line-up and various other things. They’re out there and they’re working. They’ve got another week or so before they get going. We just tried to keep up out there.”
On a sheet he briefly ruled as a member of the Hitmen.