Quinton Howden skates up ice during last season with the Warriors
There have been some old faces around the rink the last couple of days for the Moose Jaw Warriors as Quinton Howden and Dylan McIlrath have made their way back to the Friendly City. Both players are getting ready for the upcoming AHL, and possibly NHL, training camps that will go later this month.
It has been a summer of waiting for both former WHL stars as they look to embark on the next stage of their hockey careers and that's thanks to the threat of a lockout looming over the National Hockey League.
"It's been a long summer at home, been training hard, and it's been one of my best summers yet. I feel like I've really improved," said Howden, the 2010 first round pick of the Florida Panthers.
Howden says he's been paying attention to the lockout talks, but at the same time, not letting it distract him as he gets ready for the upcoming season -- wherever that might be, "I've been keeping as close eye as you can. There's nothing I can do, but watch and wait, so I'm going to keep training and if all else fails, I'll go to the AHL and hope for the best there."
For McIlrath, he says he's been getting a little more of an inside scoop on the negotiations between the NHL and NHL Players Association, "I work out with Travis Hamonic (New York Islanders defenceman) and he's going to lots of the meetings, so I get some info on how things are going. Hoping for the best and hope they can agree on terms, so there's a season right away."
McIlrath adds that the potential of a lockout is hitting a little closer to home this time around, "I remember the lockout (in 2004-05) and not being able to watch hockey was just a bummer, but now that it's kind of my job, it's a little worse. Right now it's just kind of a waiting game and I'll go down to Connecticut and do my best down there."
The 2010 NHL 10th overall pick injured his knee during spring camp with the New York Rangers, but McIlrath says rehab has been going good so far, "That was a bit of a speed bump, but I've just been trying to recover and get my rehab going and just looking forward to whenever camp starts.
"I won't be ready (for camp), but around that time I'll get the go ahead to start skating, so I'm looking forward to it."
Dealing with the injury has been something new for the big defenceman. McIlrath says he feels he's become more mentally tough because of it, "No one wants to get injured, but when you do, you've just got to take it with a positive attitude and try to get back playing as soon as possible."
Howden says he's been working hard over the summer with an eye on making the jump up to the big leagues this season, "(I worked on) getting stronger, trying to gain a little weight and do what I can to be better on the ice.
"I've had a hard summer with a lot of training. Not to say anything bad, but I'm done with Junior hockey, I've had fun, but I feel like I'm ready to move on and gain some more experience from a pro level, so I'm really excited."
The two players will be in town for the next little while before heading off to AHL camps at the end of the month. The Warriors continue to practice at Mosaic Place this week as they get set to face Swift Current on Friday in Maple Creek.
A reminder to Warrior fans that season tickets are available to pick up starting on Wednesday morning at 9:00am. You can stop by the Warriors office throughout the week during regular business hours to grab your tickets. The office will also be open this weekend on Saturday from 9 to 5 and Sunday from 9 to 3. Single game tickets are also on sale now at the Mosaic Place box office.
New York Rangers prospect Dylan McIlrath goes over his summer with Marc Smith.
Florida Panthers prospect Quinton Howden talks about getting ready for the upcoming season.
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