© Andy Klink photo
Brandon Hynes is shown as a member of the Val-d’Or Foreurs.
The test starts today for Brandon Hynes — figuratively and literally.
The 20-year-old Norris Point native will report to the American Hockey League’s Hartford Wolf Pack training camp for fitness testing and medical exams, with the first on-ice session coming on Friday.
Hynes was signed to a contract with the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors back in August, with the guarantee of a shot at making the American League team. Though Hynes only got to Hartford Tuesday, he believes he definitely has a chance at cracking the roster.
“There are a lot of young people ... a lot of people my age here,” he said. “There’s reason to be optimistic.”
Of note, Hynes said there are only about five or six players returning from last year’s team — which was known as the Connecticut Whale — including only one right-winger.
He’s expecting a total of 30 to participate in camp, including four goalies, with the team eventually cutting the group down to 22. The Wolf Pack camp ends Sept. 29, while the Road Warriors camp would begin Oct. 2.
The team is in the middle of a youth movement, with the oldest player at camp born in 1988.
“If you don’t really have a chance, you won’t be here long,” he said. “It’s almost too much of an opportunity to leave anything behind ... it’s there at my fingertips and I’ve just got to leave it all out there.
“If I don’t make it, I can’t say I didn’t try.”
Talking with team officials, the former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League sniper said a hint or two has been dropped about how the squad lacks scoring and speed up front.
“Those are two things I think I bring to the table,” he said.
It doesn’t matter to him whether he’s providing offence for the first, second or third line — whatever he can do to help the team and help himself realize his dream of playing professionally.
“You need goals to win games,” he reasoned.
Training camp will be strictly workouts and practices until next Wednesday, when they play the Worcester Sharks in a pre-season tilt, so Hynes is assuming he’ll be around until then, at least.
“Unless I get cut during practice, if I screw it up that much,” he said.
He realizes consistency is the key at this level. It’s not something a player can strive towards for three or four games, they have to be able to bring it for a full season. It’s not that he lacks confidence in his abilities, but he said at this stage of the year, before he’s been out on the ice to get a gauge for what he’s up against, he has many questions left unanswered in the back of his mind.
“That’s normal,” he said. “You just ask yourself, ‘Did I do enough work this summer to earn myself a spot?,’ but you wouldn’t be human if you went to a pro camp and felt you were ready to play.”
All he ever wanted was the chance to play at the AHL level and now that chance is in front of him. He claims to have no expectations, just a goal.
“I don’t know what to expect until I step on the ice,” he said.