by Tony Brown | AHL On The Beat
The finish of every AHL season brings with it tangible alternatives for a lot of younger gamers within the type of newbie tryout agreements, solid with American League groups on the conclusions of gamers’ collegiate or professional seasons.
This 12 months, the Central Division’s Cleveland Monsters inked rookie forwards Spencer Naas, a four-year letter winner on the University of Connecticut, and Grant Besse, a former University of Wisconsin winger contemporary off a productive marketing campaign within the ECHL, to late-season tryout contracts.
Both Minnesota natives and highschool teammates at Benilde-St. Margaret’s within the Twin Cities, Naas and Besse arrived in Cleveland to search out one other of their highschool teammates entrenched within the Monsters’ dressing room in defensemen Ryan Collins, one season faraway from having fun with an analogous late-season AHL entry following his time on the University of Minnesota.
Speaking previous to his skilled debut, Naas described his method to his late-season look-see with the Monsters.
“It’s definitely very fast [in the AHL] and the defensemen really close time and space quickly, but my teammates have done a great job of welcoming me and helping me feel comfortable,” defined Naas. “That has certainly helped me relax and focus on playing my game and helping the team any way I can.”
Naas’ first skilled recreation resulted in his first skilled aim, scored in entrance of his dad and mom, who had been in attendance at The Q alongside over 15,000 followers. Naas says, provided that kind of pressure-cooker surroundings, he sought to simplify his recreation.
“I just tried to tell myself it’s just another game,” mentioned Naas. “I’ve been playing this sport for as long as I can remember so I just tried not to complicate things too much and tried to do the things that allow me to be successful.”
For Besse, there was a consolation degree not simply between himself and his teammates, but additionally together with his new head coach John Madden.
“I know a little bit about him from the four years I spent living in Minnesota,” detailed Madden. “I had a chance to watch [Besse] play all four years of high school and a little bit of college so there’s familiarity there…The one thing I want to see is his shot, he scored a lot of goals in high school and we’re looking for big things from him here.”
Acknowledging that there’s little time for ATO/PTO acquisitions to regulate to a staff’s methods and philosophies when becoming a member of a membership at midstream, Madden defined what a coach can glean about gamers when evaluating them in these late-season, “fish-out-of-water” settings.
“You kind of get a look into what hockey IQ they have just jumping into game 66 or 67 of the season or whatever it might be,” defined Madden. “That’s what I like about both [Naas’ and Besse’s] games, they’ve figured their way around out there and are doing enough to earn additional looks in the lineup.”
For Besse, the largest leap made out of school to professional hockey isn’t a matter of the tempo or fashion of play, however somewhat the frequency of the video games themselves.
“The thing that jumps out to me is just the number of games that you play,” mentioned Besse. “In college, your schedule is pretty set with Friday and Saturday games and a full week of practice to prepare for the next games, but in the pros you play those same weekend games with a Wednesday or a Sunday sprinkled in. I had to learn what I need to do to get ready throughout the week and trying to perfect that routine so I’m ready to go on a given night.”
Besse additionally has a transparent imaginative and prescient for his late-season AHL probability.
“I just want to play the best hockey I can play,” mentioned Besse. “I think if I can do that, based on the year I had [in the ECHL], I’m hoping to be a full-time player [in the AHL] in the upcoming season. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward and see where it goes from there.”
That sentiment represents sage recommendation for nearly each AHL participant every spring.