Twenty-four players who played for the Portland Pirates last season will participate Thursday morning on opening day of training camp for the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz.
That group will be among 58 players contending for 23 spots on the Coyotes, entering their third season as the Pirates’ NHL parent.
The main camp follows a four-day rookie camp attended by 36 of the NHL team’s top prospects.
A couple of players from last season’s Pirates team made big impressions during the three scrimmages.
Portland Coach Ray Edwards singled out forwards Darian Dziurzynski and Lucas Lessio.
“Lucas has an impact every time he touches the puck.” Edwards said. “He’s driving to the net. He’s getting scoring chances. He’s first on pucks on the forecheck.”
Last spring, Lessio scored a goal and had an assist in five games with the Pirates following the completion of his junior season with the Oshawa Generals in the OHL.
“Darius is playing really hard, finishing checks, scoring goals,” Edwards said. “He’s definitely noticeable out there.”
A second-year pro, Dziurzynski scored nine goals and had seven assists in 59 games with the Pirates last season.
At this point in training camp, Edwards, entering his fourth full season as coach of the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, is not focusing on the Pirates.
“We’re at an NHL camp so we focus on the NHL camp,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and say who is going to be with me (in Portland) and who is not. Everyone has the ability to make (the Coyotes) and I’m not going to deal with the (Pirates) until it’s time to.”
Phoenix’s first preseason game is Sunday night against the Los Angeles Kings at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes open their regular season Oct. 3 at home against the New York Rangers.
The Pirates are scheduled to open their training camp Sept. 23 at the MHG Center in Saco. During their first week of practice, Portland is scheduled to play an exhibition against the University of New Brunswick and two preseason games against the Manchester Monarchs.
The Pirates open the season Oct. 12 against the Providence Bruins at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, where they’re scheduled to play the first 13 games of their home schedule.