Now this is Sens Army!

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

PETAWAWA — The fanatics of “Sens Army” would have been proud.

Their hockey heroes compared favourably to this country’s real-life heroes in a friendly tank pull relay at CFB Petawawa on Sunday.

Just has to be a good way to start the season, doesn’t it?

“We actually beat their time,” said Senators coach Cory Clouston. “The guys were pretty happy about that.”

All spoke positively of the two-day excursion a couple hours west of Scotiabank Place, which had the Senators exchange their jerseys for fatigues and do some “team bonding.”

Various exercises had them take part in different obstacle races and a march. They used “simulator guns” and engaged in scenarios. They repelled off a 65-foot tower and wound things up Monday with a simulated parachute jump from a 50-foot platform.

Mike Fisher was among those very excited about taking the leap of faith.

“It’s just good for team chemistry,” Chris Phillips said of the visit to Petawawa. “You go through three weeks of camp, of being on the ice every day, going through practice ... it’s good to break it up. (Sunday) was a pretty hard-working day. Guys were tired and had a lot of fun with it.

“It was a good exercise for team building. Just to see how guys react when the pressure gets going and the sergeants are right beside you and yelling at you. It was fun.”

Such an experience is also a reminder of the all-for-one, one-for-all mentality a team is supposed to have.

“In the military, they rely on each other, everybody has to do what they’re supposed to do,” said Daniel Alfredsson. “You don’t have to worry about the next guy. If they make a mistake, it could be life and death. It’s not as dramatic in our case, but the same principles apply.”

Indeed, all walked away from the experience with even more respect for Canada’s soldiers, if that’s possible.

“Obviously, this is just practise for them,” said Phillips. “Once they’re going to work, once it all gets started, that’s a whole other level I don’t think we can even fathom.”

Said coach Cory Clouston: “We really enjoyed ourselves. It was nice to see kind of what our soldiers have to go through ... obviously, it’s just a small portion of their activities, but we got at least a glimpse of how hard they train and how dedicated they have to be. I think it was a real good situation for all our guys.”

Eye-opening, too. Alfredsson was asked what, if anything, he learned about any of his teammates during the two days in close quarters at the military base. 

“I didn’t know Cory was scared of heights,” said the captain. “But he kind of overcame it and did a good job of repelling. So good for him.”

Next for the Senators comes the task of trying to get good and high on the Eastern Conference ladder.

ICE CHIPS

Neither Fisher nor Chris Neil practised Monday, but both are expected to play in Friday’s season opener. For line rush purposes, Ryan Shannon skated in Fisher’s centre spot on unit No. 2 between Alex Kovalev and Nick Foligno, while defenceman Brian Lee filled in for Neil on the third line, alongside Chris Kelly and Jarkko Ruutu, Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Alfredsson and Zack Smith-Jesse Winchester-Peter Regin made up the other lines ... No surprises on the defensive pairings for first post-camp practice, either, as they were: Erik Karlsson-Phillips, Sergei Gonchar-Chris Campoli, Matt Carkner-David Hale ... Neil was hobbling after a rough Saturday night pre-season match with the Rangers in which, among other uncomfortable moments, he received Derek Boogaard’s stick in the groin. No disciplinary action has been taken on the New York enforcer, which is fine by Neil. “I’m not going to call the league and complain about it, said Neil.” As for the Buffalo game, he said. “Hoping to be in the home opener and to be flying out there, doing what I normally do.” ...  Upon seeing Pascal Leclaire in army fatigues, wise guys wondered if the goalie was happy to be out of sight of fans who would have been none-too-impressed with his performance Saturday. Leclaire admitted he didn’t have a particularly strong Sunday, either. “We did an obstacle course, I think I broke the record for the worst performance ever,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t shine in a few events, for sure.” ... Among the many catching a few moments of practice at Silver Dart Arena was former Ottawa Rough Rider Val St. Germain. Doesn’t look like it would take him much work to be ready for un-retirement and a spot on the O-line of Ottawa’s CFL team in 2013.


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