PITTSTON – When Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach Todd Reirden jogged through the Revolution Ice Centre lobby and back out onto the ice for the second half of Tuesday’s practice, it was indicative of how the session went.
For the majority of the hour-and-a-half practice, players were constantly moving through a series of fast-paced competitive drills. About the only time they were able to stop was when the Zamboni came out to resurface the ice halfway through practice.
After suffering back-to-back exhibition losses to Binghamton over the weekend, Reirden made it clear he wasn’t happy with the lack of passion from his players. He used Tuesday’s practice to address the matter and came away feeling better.
“They had a tough go this weekend, but it was more the competitiveness and playing at the American Hockey League level,” Reirden said. “It was something we addressed (Monday) off the ice and got after quite a bit today on the ice.”
Reirden put his players through the paces with several scrimmages and forechecking drills that demanded hard skating. While the drills demanded a fast pace from the players, they also carried a consequence. The forechecking drill, for example, required a lap for the offensive players if they couldn’t keep the puck in the zone or the defensive unit if they were unable to clear.
“As much as you can include competition in the result of what happens – whether it’s a lap or pushups, you get a little more out of them,” Reirden said. “They’re all competitors and none of them like losing.”
Defenseman Lane Caffaro, who is considered a veteran in camp as of now after appearing in four games with the AHL Pens last season, said the pace of Tuesday’s practice was a good turnaround from the play over the weekend.
“Last year when I joined the team one thing I noticed is you practice how you play, so the practices always had a really good tempo,” Caffaro said. “A lot of it is mental – coming in prepared. We go over the practice before we start so there’s not a lot of standing around out there.”
Reirden said the players can expect the same high tempo for every practice because it’s simply a part of playing pro hockey. He said Tuesday’s practice did increase the competitive level of his players, and mentioned Aaron Boogaard, Zack Sill, Keven Veilleux and Chris Cloud as some of those who stood out.
They and the rest of the team can look forward to more competing this week, Reirden said, when roster moves are expected to occur.
“I think we can look to get some players back from Pittsburgh in the next few days and that will make things more competitive,” he said.