After a week of drills, conditioning, and inter-squad games, the Manitoba Moose will finally play someone other than themselves.
The team will depart this morning for Fort Frances, Ont., where they'll take on the Hamilton Bulldogs tonight in the first of two exhibition contests this weekend. The teams will square off again in Dryden tomorrow night.
For the players, it's a chance to really get down to business. For head coach Randy Carlyle, he's been there before, and knows training camp is as tough mentally as it is physically for the players.
"(The coaches) know how difficult it can be to compete against your teammates for an extended period of time, and I'm sure they're going to welcome the opportunity to play against somebody (else)," Carlyle said.
The players, as a whole, are ready to show what they can do in real-game situations. Some skaters have been ready for a while.
"It's so monotonous," winger Lee Goren said of camp. "You really can't get into it, playing the same guys every day.
"Plus, I didn't make the playoffs in San Antonio last season, so it's been the longest summer I've ever had," he continued.
"I can't wait to play some games."
HELLO KITTY: If some Moose players were dreaming about the silent regime of former coach Stan Smyl, the new bench boss is quickly putting an end to that fantasy.
"Just showing up is not good enough. Some people have been able to do that, some people need prodding -- and they'll get prodded," Carlyle stated.
The head coach let loose on a couple of Moose players during the two-hour skate yesterday, specifically forwards Tim Smith and Justin Morrison, who delivered a dangerous cross-ice pass that was intercepted, inspiring a disgusted Carlyle to offer the winger a seat in the stands.
"I wasn't happy with some people," Carlyle said. "Simple as that."
MOOSE MOVES: Goaltender Rob McVicar was sent down to Columbia (ECHL) yesterday ... As expected, Carlyle wouldn't announce his lineup for tonight.