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S51 SMJHL PT #1 - Team Building

Well this week has been a whirl wind since being drafted by the Carolina Kraken. The team definitely wanted to have some nice team building exercises though with so many new rookies coming in the knew we would need to be able to gel in the little time we had before the season started and with preseason being so short we needed as much as we could get. We decided to go the typical route of an escape room, because if the team can not work together to get out of a fake locked room then there is no way they can work together to score some goals. Michael Fitted showed up already plastered and had another flask ready to go, but was surprisingly helpful when he wasn't talking to us about tacos. Alexei Rykov, Tom Fiddler, and Phineas Gold mostly argued over which era Terry Bradshaw was the best (obviously modern day Terry) so they were of little help unless we got lucky and there was a Bradshaw related clue (spoilers: there wasn't). Me and the fellow rookies banded together nicely though and were able to figure out most of the clues to get out of the room in record time. Record for slowest time, but a record nonetheless.

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So after Noah Johns got signed, he headed to the locker room in Colorado for a training. Now, this was early in the morning. So, after the practice was over, Noah decided to pitch in for a team-bonding exercise. Some guys like Kane Osterman, Michael Drunkebird, and Wolf Bohne Jr. All decided to join in. Now some other guys from the team decided to follow after those 3 joined like, Kuster Siecker, and Anderson Atreides. After this the group made some recommendations. The team decided to head over to the Childrens Hospital of Colorado. They wanted to visit some of the kids and possible make some new fans! The team hopped onto a bus and headed over. They brought gifts and a few signed jerseys. They gave these away over the time and the Raptors grew a few fans. And making some kids day! Overall, the team was happy and so were the parents and kids. It was a good day.

Every team is a team for a reason and one of the reasons is the team-play and bond that builds up through out the years playing together. One of the ways how it happens is at the practice and on the field when everyone is fighting for the same goal, but not always it works just with that. As always Kelowna Knights management was encouraging the players to find ways how to get closer together outside the practice and locker room. Considering that all the players in Kelowna are very close in age and part of the millennials, the generation who enjoys video games and gaming in general, few of the players decided to go home, jump on discord and have good time by playing some of the most popular games out there. THe games included Rocket League, COD:MW and Sea of Thieves. The experience was fun and satisfying overall as everyone got very competitive and showed how much they care for the win which therefore showed that as a team they will fight till the end.

After the gaming was done Ryan Shepard messaged Danila commenting on what he thought about the night:

"I had a lot of fun playing Rocket League, I was able to get aerial hits down by the end of the night. It was probably my favourite of the games we played. I have trouble with fps games so when we played Call of Duty, the younger guys schooled me. Finally, Sea of Thieves was a blast to mess around and be a pirate. Overall a great bonding session."

Danila himself was probably the most competitive ones and expressed his energy in many ways during the good times and winning games and also at the moments of loss.

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New Halifax draftees Ollie Saarinen, Jr and Simon Moreau participate in the team's annual Beach Day during the the Raider's Season 51 training camp while fans look on.

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You know just Me and the Rookie Boys hanging out in the Detroit Falcons locker room!
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Jmac NCheese, RW 2-Way Forward

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It took a little bit to get a good picture, but here's the St. Louis Scarecrows Paintball Day.

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Names are given from Left to Right.
Top Row: Danny Marston, Mega Tron, Marques Brownlee, Elizabeth Doyle, Blake Faux, James Ronlain, Yamamoto Mitsuharu, Gareth Crinnion, Luc-Pierre Lespineau-Lebrunette, Trey Nets, Ruslan Zaporozhets, Aron Hernadivic, Sasha Dangelchek
Bottom Row: Jakub Bruchevski, Tucker Centennial, Flash Gordon, Borys Franciszek, Ryszard Franciszek, Jebany Franciszek, Marian Elsner.

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When Simon Moreau, the latest draft pick of the Halifax Raiders, arrived to meet his new teammates for the first time he was not sure what to expect. Moving into a new environment at his young age was intimidating and so it was important that the team did something to ease him and the other rookies into the team. The activity that the team decided on was paddleboarding in the Halifax harbour. The players were grateful that it was the summer months and so the water wasn’t too cold, but still a few players who we can’t name couldn’t help falling in. On the whole the team had a great time and it was a really good way for them to be introduced to each other and start making friendships that would be very important for the team. After the session finished the coaches gave a talk about how it was important for them to be used to getting out of their comfort zones which was the message of the day. All in all, it was a great day and a valuable experience!

The rookie party, an annual tradition for all hockey teams around the world. A time for rookies to get to know their new teammates better, get tighter with the team with some good natured pranks, and for the veterans that show up late, a chance to be treated as a rookie again. The Kelowna Knights rookie party this year had a simple prank to start to the night. Every rookie (and late veterans) had to spend the entire night wearing a reindeer costume. To really sell it, the rookies were then encouraged to sing a jolly holiday song and prance around as they sang. Keeping with the theme, dessert that night was carrot cake. Everyone at the party participated in reindeer games. pitting the rookies against the veterans. If you were able to beat a veteran in one of the games, you were allowed to ditch the reindeer costume, but still had to any of the activities reserved for rookies.

Sometimes plays nice with others
Keep on Skankin'

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(This post was last modified: 12-02-2019, 08:58 PM by Wiad.)

Friday, November 29, 2019 - 8:53 in the 2nd period with the Anchorage Armada trailing the Kelowna Knights 1-0.

Rookie Cyril Vyskoc (@artermis) carries the puck through the neutral zone. He dishes the puck to fellow rookie Ulrik Bergstrom who carries the puck into Kelowna's zone and then passes to a third rookie in Ryan Cvitkovich (@ryan cvit). Cvitkovich fires the puck which is blocked by a Knight's defenseman. The puck bounces right to a streaking Vyskoc who taps home the tying score for the Armada's first goal of the new season. The trio of rookies paired together to get their first points in the first game of their SMJHL careers.

After the game, they went to The O'Brien's Club (a popular Kelowna pub), to celebrate. After making a few passes at some clearly uninterested Kelowna women, the boys settled in at the bar. They made small talk until Cyril got a bright idea and a smirk appeared on his face. He stood up and loudly announced that he is challenging his teammates to a drinking competition which Ryan and Ulrik readily accepted. The first four shots went by quickly. Ryan completed his fifth shot, took a step backwards, stumbled and tripped over a chair leg sending it crashing to the ground. "Fukin' lightweight" stuttered Cyril, before drinking his sixth shot. He got halfway through his seventh shot before he turned green and waved his hand conceding the competition. Ulrik finished his seventh shot and jumped up and down in victory before puking it all back up on the bar counter. Seeing them in no state to drive, the bartender called their coach (@hotdog) to come pick them up. Coach Hotdog arrived just after 2:00 AM, clearly not amused. He sighed when he saw the sorry state of his rookies, paid the bar tab, and dragged the trio to his truck. The next day, Coach Hotdog made them each take 100 laps around the rink. The rookies promised to be more responsible in the future.

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After a few weeks of practice, Samat Beibitzhanov, who rarely spoke to anyone except the goalpost and puck, approached fellow rookies Simothy Drunkebird, Bryce Turner, and Matthew Anderson, pulling them aside and saying only "You want to do real team building exercise?" with a smile described as "unsettling but sincere." All three (with varying levels of reluctance) agreed. "meet at practice facility at 8 in morning." was the only reply.

The next morning was relatively cold, just above freezing. Samat showed up in a van and took the players, driving them out to a remote cabin about 3 hours away. Everyone except Samat was slightly worried that they were being kidnapped and/or about to be murdered. However, upon entering, the cabin was well furnished and warm. The players chatted and drank for hours, including vodka and Samat's own homemade Kumis, made out in a 55-gallon drum in the back shed. Samat was oddly personable and "strangely normal," especially after a few drinks. He explained that his working mindset was different from his living one, among other things. Afterwards, everyone slept off their alcohol, and returned to the practice facility with a newfound team unity.


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Raptors Practice Facility

After the recent excitement of the SMJHL draft, it was time for the rookies to take the ice in their first team practice. As the morning progressed, you could almost feel an energy building as the players laced up their skates and took the ice. However, this would turn out to be a very non-traditional practice. 

In an effort to help relieve what might be some early jitters, the Raptors spent the first half of practice playing with a beach ball on the ice. The players were paired up 5v5, no sticks with a goalie on each team. Initially it was vets vs. rookies but as the game progressed, the teams mixed to give players a chance to get to know everyone. The mayhem on the ice was certainly laughable, but it helped alleviate some of the nervous jitters as the organized part of practice looked very promising.

Izzy Dudemiester was excited and nervous to head to Halifax and meet all his new teammates.  Luckily for him, they chose to break the ice with a Summer beach day on the sunny coast of Nova Scotia.  The day was filled with paddle boarding, volleyball, people watching, and general good fun.  He heard that Halifax can be beautiful in more ways than one on those summer days and he was definitely not disappointed at the sights.  One thing he made sure to not forget for the boys was the beer.  He loaded up a couple coolers with his favorite, Keystone, and happily passed them around.  Not everyone was on board at first, but they came around or at least they humored him for some free cold ones.  By the end of the day, he knew he was ready to start a journey with these amazing athletes and battle for a win every night, as long as he can celebrate afterwards of course.


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