Andrew White and Justin Pender have been friends and teammates for nearly their whole lives, but they find themselves in direct competition at this year’s Halifax Mooseheads’ training camp.
The two St. John’s natives are in a three-way competition with Graham Bona for the two remaining overage spots and no one is prepared to bow out without a fight. White, the only forward in the group, said he isn’t about to let friendships stand in the way of his objective of cracking the opening night roster and knows the other guys are taking the same approach.
"We understand what the situation is," White said. "We’re not young anymore. We know what we’ve got to do and what’s at stake so everyone is trying to put their best foot forward and whoever gets it deserves it."
Although teams are permitted to dress three 20-year-olds, one of Halifax’s spots has already been awarded to goaltender Mark Yetman, another old friend from the St. John’s area. It would seem that White would have the edge for one of the remaining spots because of how desperate the Mooseheads are for scoring, but the team is almost as thin on defence so nothing is set in stone. Should the team’s management and coaching staff decide they can’t afford to sacrifice White’s production, he will stay. But they might also elect to stick with Pender and Bona at the back end and hope for narrow wins in low-scoring games.
The competition and uncertainty remind White of the mindset he had as a rookie during his first training camp back in 2006.
"It’s the same in a way," White said. "Last year coming in I knew I had a sure spot on the team, but this year you don’t really know.
"It makes you work that much harder. Right now we have three guys for two spots so it just makes you bury your head and work that much more. Whoever comes out on top will deserve it and props to whoever makes it."
And whoever survives the tryout will likely make it at least partly because of his leadership skills. The Mooseheads will be one of the youngest teams in the league this year and it will be huge for their veteran players to show the newcomers the ropes.
"As much as you want to be a leader on the ice, you have to be even more of a leader off the ice," White said. "You’ve got to teach the younger guys what to do and how to follow because if you don’t show them, who will. You’ve got to work hard in practice and show that you can bring leadership to the team as well."
And regardless of how it plays out, one of the three players will be traded soon, which is likely playing on their minds to some extent. It’s believed there is interest from other teams in all three guys at this point.
"I’m not really worrying about it," said White, who scored 22 goals last season. "If it turns out I get traded, I get traded. If that’s what they decide they want to do, I can’t worry about that. I understand how things work and I can’t worry about something that’s not in my hands. All I can do is go on the ice and work my hardest. That’s what I can control."
On my mighty Whitey. I spotted you the moment you hit the ice last night. I didn't even need to see the number on the jersey to identify you, the way you tuck your jersey into your pants makes you visible from space. That and the speedy grindyness you bring. I did not see you crack a smile and in the third you were so serious, especially after the helmet shenanigans. Perhaps that was just your intense look. My vote goes for Whitey ABOVE ALL OTHERS. Honestly, if it would sway them I would even send custom m&m's to the Mooseheads office in your honour.
On a side note, the 'old mens' (predetermined assumption that all posters on the forums are old and men although I know this is not necessarily true) at the Moncton Wildcats forum are saying that my unrequited love Tyler Noseworthy is totally coo-worthy. They are all fussing and fawning and trying to get his number to set up kissy-face dates. Pfffff, hands-off dudes, I totally called him back in June before the draft - HE IS MINE.