By Dale Woodard on September 11, 2021.
Aiden Ziprick’s first Western Hockey League training camp has been an eye-opener on a number of levels.
First and foremost, the Canes training camp has given the defenceman from Russell, Man. a firsthand look at major junior-calibre talent.
There are other important glimpses as well for Ziprick, who the Hurricanes selected in the seventh round and 148th overall in the 2020 WHL bantam draft.
Heading into the second day of camp Friday, his first WHL camp has also allowed Ziprick to scope out the prospects from other provinces and also play alongside older players who are gearing up for NHL rookie camps later this month.
“It’s been phenomenal,” said Ziprick.
“You walk in here and you get to see the huge rink and some guys you’ve never seen before. To get to be out there against guys who are going to NHL camps, that’s honestly a huge honour to even be here. I’m really grateful for it.”
It has also been a chance for Ziprick to see talent from the other western provinces.
“Back home, you’re just playing against guys from Manitoba, so you never really get to see the guys out in Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan,” he said. “It’s really good to get out there, the pace is good and there are a lot of skilled guys out there. It’s a really fast and physical game to play.”
Then there are the older players such as Alex Cotton and Ty Nash, who are headed to the Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes rookie camps, respectively.
“All the veterans are great to us,” said Ziprick. “They try to welcome you the best that they can. I know Ty is going to the Hurricanes camp in a week or so. So it’s really awesome to watch him play and be able to see what it takes to play at that next level.”
Like everybody else, the COVID-19 pandemic wrecked havoc with Ziprick’s schedule with the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg.
“We only got four games in, just playing another team in Manitoba,” said the six-foot-one, 168-pound blue-liner who will turn 16 Dec. 8.
“It wasn’t the full experience, but we made the best of it.”
Still, as part of the Rink program, Ziprick and his teammates were able to skate every day the rinks were open.
It was when the lockdowns really kicked in that he had to get creative.
“When they got shut down we went to the outdoor rinks and tried to stay in the best of shape,” said Ziprick.
“When everything was shut down and you couldn’t even go outside to go to the rinks my billet brother and I worked out downstairs and just tried to stay in the best shape possible.”
Still, as the summer months approached, Ziprick managed to grab some more ice time before trekking out to southern Alberta.
“I was in Winnipeg the whole summer training at the rink there,” he said. “We skated three times a week and worked out five times a week. That really helped me to get where I am now.”
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