Aeros.com Audio Highlights from campRob Daum Interview (appr. two minutes, .WAV file)Ben Thomson Interview (appr. two minutes, .WAV file)
From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Friday, September 29, 2006
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AEROS TRAINING CAMP REPORT, DAY 3
SUGAR LAND, Texas – His coach, Rob Daum, says that diminutive Ben Thomson has a chance to be a “cult hero” with Aeros fans. Thomson didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or not, but eventually he was convinced.
“Obviously my stature isn’t that large,” said the 5-foot-7 Thomson. “I’ve got to use the things that got me here. Create space for myself, get in people’s faces, and getting active on the other team and drawing penalties. I’m a bit of a waterbug out there, I guess.”
And Daum would know, having coached him for two seasons at the University of Alberta. Thomson, who played with the Golden Bears last season too, signed an amateur tryout with the Aeros over the summer.
“Ben is a very competitive guy even though he’s small,” Daum said. “He plays with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy. He’s fearless as far as taking the puck to the net and battling against an opponent. He’s relentless in his approach to the game. That energy and enthusiasm is contagious when his teammates see someone of his size taking on bigger people and battling. It tends to make his teammates play with the same type of vigor, so he’s a motivator in that regards.”
But Thomson is by no way just an agitator.
In Friday’s scrimmage – the last before Saturday’s pre-season game against San Antonio, Thomson went top-shelf on a breakaway for a goal, and then set up Matt Foy’s goal to end the scrimmage.
“He’s got good offensive skills,” said Daum. “At times he overhandles the puck. For him to be very effective, he has to move it into openings and get it back. When he does that, he’s a dangerous player and he’s very entertaining.”
Thomson has done his best to separate himself from the 37 others competing for ice time and a roster spot.
“When you go into a camp, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers,” said Thomson, who turned 24 in June. “I’ve been to a few camps, so I can use my experience to my advantage there. I can’t get caught up in numbers’ game. I’ve got to go out there and do the things, the reasons why I’m in camp, and that is to use my speed and creativity, and I’ll be alright I guess."
Thomson spent much of the summer getting ready for his chance.
“I think I had a good summer,” he said. “I worked out hard, and I gained some strength and I increased my speed. I’m going out there, trying to play my game and not overdo things.”
Thomson will also endear himselves to Aeros fans with his hobbies - hunting and fishing, and his music choices. Shortly after his interview today, Thomson asked equipment manager Rick Bronwell for more "juice" on the stereo, which blasted country song "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off".
---HOUSTON AEROS, BE A FAN---
Team ready for action
Daum’s Aeros are ready to face someone in an enemy jersey.
After extensive scrimmages each of the last three days, Houston takes on San Antonio in a pair of pre-season games this weekend – Saturday at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center, and Sunday at Northwoods in suburban San Antonio.
“The guys are looking forward to playing someone else,” Daum said. “It gives us a better chance to evaluate. The three days here have been good. We’ve seen a lot of the things we want to see. I think it’s been an excellent camp.”
Many AHL pre-season camps are spattered with players with little or no chance of making the team. But not this one.
“All the players have belonged here,” Daum said. “It’s made for a very competitive situation. But it’s time to go against a different opponent and see 20 guys focus on our team tomorrow night.”
It’s been an impressive camp from many of the players from the Aeros’ affiliates, the ECHL’s Texas Wildcatters and the CHL’s Austin Ice Bats. Marco Rosa, a Wildcatters center who played 27 games with AHL Milwaukee last season, had a hat trick and three assists in Thursday’s scrimmage.
“There has been lot of depth,” Daum said. “If you look at our lineup, there’s room for one or two of these guys to maybe get a job, but at the very least if we’re in a call-up situation throughout the course of the year, we know we have people who can step in and contribute. It’s been very positive in that regard.”
Who will dress?
Daum’s counterpart in Minnesota, Jacques Lemaire, is famous for keeping his starting goalie secret until the pre-game warmup 40 minutes before gametime.
Daum is going one better, calling his team together for a 9 a.m. meeting Saturday, at which time he’ll announce the playing roster for Saturday’s game. Then it’s equipment manager Rick Bronwell’s turn to go to work, with possible number changes.
Since Gordie Howe’s No. 9 is retired by the Aeros, center Mike Bayrack would wear another number. With 35 jerseys and 38 players in camp, make sure to pick up a roster on your way into Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center on Saturday night. Gametime is 6 p.m.