CEDAR RAPIDS – Mike Babcock wasn’t playing the role of nervous father Sunday afternoon.
“What am I going to do?” the Detroit Red Wings head coach said, philosophically.
Babcock’s son, Michael, was one of 40-some players taking part in the final game of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders‘ 2012 tryout camp at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The three-day camp goes a long way toward determining a fall roster for the Riders.
This was the second year in a row trying out for Michael Babcock, 17, who recently completed his junior year at Detroit Catholic Central High School. He was named a Division 1 first-team all-stater by the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association.
“It was long and it was hard, but it was a good experience,” Michael Babcock said.
“The way I look at this is for every kid that came here, if they trained as hard as they could and left everything they had out there (on the ice), there are no regrets,” Mike Babcock said. “If this opportunity closes up, you find another one … I just know my kid will be happier if he’s coming to summer camp than if he’s not. But if he’s not, the sun is going to come up tomorrow.”
RoughRiders Coach/General Manager Mark Carlson said he is looking forward to Babcock coming to town for July’s conditioning camp. Carlson said there was no list of camp ”survivors,” per se.
Each United States Hockey League club needs to be down to a working roster of 30 players by July 1, though there is an additional affiliate roster that can be used for younger players.
Thirteen guys who had experience playing for the Riders at points last season participated in the tryout camp, not counting veteran forward Jack Rowe, who is injured. Forward Tanner Pond skated for the first time since March, when a medical condition he prefers not to discuss publicly ended his season.
He was finally cleared medically last Wednesday after wondering if he would ever play hockey again.
“There was a time where I felt that,” Pond said. “But I stayed positive, like Coach told me to. I’m happy, my parents are happy. Everybody is happy.”
One of the more intriguing guys at camp was highly skilled forward Anthony DeLuca. The Quebec resident was a Future’s Draft pick of the Riders last year and has verbally committed to play college hockey at Vermont but was drafted over the weekend in the second round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft by the Rimouski Oceanic.
It appears he’ll ultimately have a decision to make, whether he wants to go the USHL/college route or play major junior in Canada and thus permanently be ineligible to play American juniors and college hockey.
“Basically I came here to tryout for the team,” DeLuca said. ”It just so happened Rimouski picked me. I didn’t really know (anything) until after they picked me. Nothing was said before. I told them I was here, and I guess they took a chance because they had a lot of picks in the draft.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be playing in Cedar Rapids next year.”