A fan's perspective of RoughRiders' tryout camp

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Scott Herbst of Cedar Rapids is a knowledgeable hockey fan who loves the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. He was kind enough to provide and share some thoughts on last weekend's RoughRiders tryout camp, specifically Saturday night's Top Prospects Game.

Thank you, Scott!

Standout Returnees

Dylan Gareau: He really played a physical game, never missed an opportunity to throw a body check. He reminded me of Jeff Costello roaming the ice and always looking to dish out some pain.

Blake Butzow: Blake looked like a whole different player to me. He was skating very fluidly and saw the ice very well. He showed a good shot from the left point that resulted in an assist on a goal.

Davey Middleton: A big bodied forward, Middleton picked up right where he left off this past season. He notched two goals and played a solid all-around game. He should definitely be a big contributor come fall.

Standout New Arrivals

Andrew Poturalski: While you can argue he is not new since he played two games for the Riders last season, he is far from a veteran. Overall, my opinion is that Poturalski was the best forward in camp this weekend. He centered the No. 1 line on each team he played. He notched a pair of goals in the Top Prospect Game, showed great speed, vision and forechecking ability.

Paul O'Connor: Paul definitely did not look like a 16-year-old on the ice this weekend. He possesses the puck with poise and has his head up at all times. He showed good strength when clearing out opposing forwards in front of the net. O'Connor didn't show much offensively this weekend, but I can see why the coaching staff used a (pre-draft) tender on him. He complemented Chris Dienes very well throughout the weekend, and I could see them being paired together come fall.

Gavin Bayreuther: Bayreuther is the epitome of a two-way defenseman. There was not one thing he doesn't do well. He has good size and speed with a good slap shot from the point. He picks the appropriate times to pinch and quickly retreats to the proper positioning. I could see him being paired with Ian Brady as a blue-line tandem.

Anthony DeLuca: Anthony is probably the most highly touted player in camp, and for good reason. Even though he is hampered by a back injury, he showed good speed, an ability to find the open areas on the ice and great passing. The few shots he got off were definitely with a lot of speed. DeLuca was selected in the second round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft this weekend and speculation has swirled about his intentions. Wherever he ends up, the team is getting a special talent. He had a goal and assist in the Top Prospects Game.

Michael Babcock: Hockey fans, if his name sounds familiar, it should! He is the son of Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. Michael looked like one of the fastest skaters in camp and uses that speed to avoid defenders in the neutral zone. I could see him spearheading the RoughRiders' penalty kill.

Goalies: The goalie matchup in the Prospect Game was Chris Birsdall against Chad Catt. Both goalies showed the ability to track the puck through screens, move laterally from post to post, and handle the puck outside the net. Catt got the best of Birdsall in the game I saw, as his team came away with a 5-2 victory. Birdsall already has a roster spot locked up for the RoughRiders because Coach Mark Carlson used a tender to acquire him. He must dress for 55 percent of the games or his rights will be forfeited and Birdsall would enter the USHL Entry Draft next year.


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