NEWARK – Colton Phinney’s biggest takeaway from New Jersey’s development camp was skating.
“It’s kind of like a lost art and I need to work on that, because if you work on that it can help your overall game,” Phinney said. “Basically just the importance of that, and the faster you can get to a spot, the more time you have [and the] easier it is to make a save.”
[bctt tweet=”‘(Skating is) like a lost art. … It can help your overall game.’ – Colton Phinney”]
During practice on Friday, one of New Jersey’s coaches skated over to Phinney after a drill, speaking about the same concepts.
“It was about getting my feet set and just getting to spots quicker as well as leading with my stick,” Phinney said.
The week-long session was Phinney’s first development camp, capping off a sophomore season where Phinney recorded a .910 save percentage over 1675:25 minutes of playing time. Phinney said getting used to the speed at development camp was the biggest on-ice challenge.
“Every practice, every drill, games too, everything is happening so much faster whether it’s the shots, passes or skating,” Phinney said.
In addition to the on-ice portion of camp, which includes drills, practices and scrimmages, the attendees participated in tests like the 300 yard shuttle, vertical jump testing, core tests and body fat testing. The goaltender said he learned about skating, different techniques and off-ice training like nutrition.
“I think definitely getting some information from the goalie coaches about playing in the NHL,” Phinney said. “They were both also previous college hockey goalies. I think to obtain as much information as I can from them, and also playing with the top guys and see [what] they do and then take that back for the year. And then hopefully [I can] gain some confidence if I do well and try to learn some things.”
Phinney started for Team White during the camp scrimmage on Saturday, allowing zero goals during a 25-minute period of play. On Wednesday’s 3-on-3 tournament, Phinney backstopped Team White to two wins.
“The Phinney kid, I think he did a real good job,” Devils’ GM Ray Shero said following the scrimmage.
Phinney found out he would attend Devils’ development camp in May.
“I was obviously really excited,” Phinney said. “I was hoping to go to camp this summer, it’s pretty convenient it’s a Devils camp. Growing up in New Jersey, going to a lot of Devils games [and] we played at the Prudential Center this year and last year so I was really excited.”
Phinney also won several state championships at the Prudential Center as a netminder for Delbarton. While the rising junior isn’t a Devils fan anymore, he grew up cheering for the red and black team.
“I think the fact that a lot of family and friends from around here also like the Devils adds to it,” Phinney said. “When I got here and kind of looked around the locker room and saw all the trophies and saw the history, it definitely kind of added to it and brought back some memories of when I used to be a Devils fan.”
Phinney is the third Princeton hockey player who’s attended New Jersey’s development camp over the past three years. Former captain Jack Berger attended in 2012, while current co-captain Mike Ambrosia was at Devils’ development camp in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
This offseason, Phinney is living in Connecticut where he trains daily with former Princeton hockey forward Aaron Kesselman.
“We’re both living there together so I go there every day,” Phinney said. “It’s been a pretty productive summer.”