The look and feel of Augusta Lynx training camp changed dramatically on Monday.
Five key players from last season -- defensemen Wes Swinson and Likit Andersson and forwards Sandy Lamarre, Andrei Chouroupov and Dean Tiltgen -- were cut by the IHL's Cincinnati Cyclones on Sunday and arrived in Lynx camp for the second day of workouts. Their presence was immediately felt Monday evening as the players participated in an hour-long workout and 45-minute scrimmage before several hundred fans at the Civic Center.
"It's nice to see those guys back to business as usual," Lynx coach Scott MacPherson said. "All five guys did really well in Cincinnati."
While MacPherson said all five made a favorable impression in Cincinnati, the performances of Lamarre and Tiltgen stood out. Both scored several goals during a series of intersquad scrimmages last week.
"I think we all played really well up there and turned a few heads, I hope," said Lamarre, one of the Lynx's top performers during last year's playoff run. "We went up there and had a good camp and we're satisfied that we did all we could to make the team. Hopefully down the road, they'll remember us guys and give us a call-up at some point."
Also arriving with the players on Monday was Lynx assistant coach Louis Santini, who spent the past five days scouting and evaluating players in Cincinnati.
Santini was glad to be back in Augusta after a hectic two weeks during which he attended several NHL training camps including the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, in the never-ending search for talent.
Upon his first look at his new team Monday evening, Santini was impressed.
"I think the team improved in the areas they needed to and got some good solid veterans and good young rookies in here," Santini said. "I liked what I saw."
MacPherson added another of his former players from UMass-Amherst with the signing of center Jeff Blanchard on Monday.
The 23-year-old Blanchard is the nephew of the legendary Bobby Orr, the greatest defenseman in NHL history.
Blanchard, a rookie who was in camp with the IHL's Detroit Vipers, was going to be assigned by the Vipers to their ECHL affiliate in Johnstown, but instead asked out of his contract in with Detroit so that he could play for MacPherson and the Lynx.
The training camp roster is now at 20 skaters and two goaltender. Teams can carry up to 18 skaters and two goalies on their roster at a time during the season, but also have the option of placing players on injured reserve.
"It puts a little pressure on some guys now in camp to perform," MacPherson said. "Really, it puts pressure on one guy, on one forward. We'll have (18 skaters) to start but will probably carry one IR guy, as well, so we're able to bring in (Blanchard) and not throw guys off the island."
The Lynx also made their first cut on Monday, defenseman Yon Hasek, a 21-year-old native of the Czech Republic and a distant cousin of Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek.
That should be the last of the cuts until sometime next week, MacPherson said.
"We had to get rid of Hasek, but other than that, there's no one here that we need to cut right now because they're all doing what they're supposed to do," MacPherson said. "Even some of the rookies. They're playing to the level of the competition. I'm very pleased so far."
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