Fists flying north

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

YELLOWKNIFE -- Craig MacTavish didn't appear the least bit concerned yesterday that there were more fights than goals on the first day of Edmonton Oilers rookie camp.

In fact, the head coach is rather impressed with the feistiness and intensity on Day One, and hopes these scrappy young kids show the same spunk against the veterans at main camp.

"I'm definitely OK with it," said MacTavish, who's issued no-fighting edicts in past camps when things started to get silly.

"I like the intensity. Hopefully it's a theme that follows right through to our main camp.

"You always hear it's going to be a competitive camp and all jobs are open, but we're telling the truth this year. There really is great opportunity and we're hopeful the guys are confident enough against NHL players to compete with them.

"We expect a really physical training camp.

"Plus, Bucky (Springfield Falcons coach Kelly Buchberger) was coaching, so they wanted to impress him, as well."

They did. The first day of scrimmage saw four bouts and three goals - two by Tyler Spurgeon, who had a three-point game.

"We didn't know what to expect, but it was high tempo," said Spurgeon.

"It's three days here and everybody is looking to leave an impression.

"If you can do that you have to play your game and a lot of guys are physical, hard-working guys, so we saw a lot of that."

Adam Huxley of Wainwright, who had 241 PIMS in 61 games with Stockton (ECHL) last year, got into it with Scott Todd, who's four inches taller and 21 pounds heavier at 6-foot-4, 221.

Bretton Stamler, who'll be playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings this year, dropped the mitts with Charlie Kronschnabel.

Geoff Paukovich, Edmonton's fourth pick in 2004 locked up with Troy Bodie, their 12th pick in 2003, and Edmonton-born Mike Berube fought Ryan DePape.

"Physical, huh," grinned Bodie afterwards. "Guys were antsy, I guess. They wanted to go."

Bodie scanned the room, and the rosters, saw a lot of gamecocks, and figured things would heat up.

"I knew there were guys out there who wanted to go. Huxley, I played him last year, he definitely wants to fight and show his stuff.

"There were some fights for really no reason, but if a guy is a physical player and he wants to show what he does, that's how you do it."

As far as the softer hands were concerned, there wasn't much going on. Andrew Cogliano was held off the score sheet in Team Blue's 3-0 loss (Glenn Fisher and Bryan Pitton split the shutout).

Spurgeon's three-point night feels good, but he's the first to tell you it doesn't mean much.

"It's nice to get a start that way, but you have to keep it going," he said. "One day is not going to make your week."


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