Spezza shines in skills competition

Jason Spezza says one of the chief aims was to simply not embarrass himself.

Spezza shines in skills competition
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators scores during the shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Jason Spezza says one of the chief aims was to simply not embarrass himself.

Yet Spezza ended up being the star of the Ottawa Senators skills competition in front of more than 13,400 fans at Scotiabank Place Wednesday afternoon, allowing Team Alfredsson – aka, Team Black – end a three-year losing streak against Chris Phillips’s Team Red squad.

Spezza was a perfect four-for-four in the accuracy shooting competition and drew plenty of oohs and aahs from the crowd filled with children when he clocked 102.6 miles per hour and 103.8 mph in the hardest shot competition.

“You always want to try and put best foot forward and you really just don’t want to embarrass yourself,” Spezza said. “Accuracy shooting can be a tricky one. If you get into a rhythm, you’re all right and that’s why I took my time on the first shot. If you rush it, I’ve found found out over the years, that can be a problem.”

While the velocity of Spezza’s shot might have surprised some — rookie Jared Cowen clocked the second fastest shot at 102.0 — he says he’s always been proud of his shot.

“Last year was the first year I’ve done it,” he said.“Before that, nobody thought I could shoot, I guess. I knew that I could shoot the puck. I work on my shot a lot, I just didn’t know how hard it was.”

The other highlights of the competition included Colin Greening’s speed and Eric Condra’s shootout skills. Greening smashed his own club record by racing around the ice in 13.434 seconds, inching towards Mike Gartner’s all-time NHL record of 13.386.

Greening acknowledges feeling pressure after winning the speed competition with a time of 13.655 last season and was surprised with his new record time.

“I didn’t know if I would break last year, because I had a pretty good run last year, but I feel like I’m a good skater and that’s one of my best attributes,” he said. “But to get a 13.4 was a bit of a surprise.”

Alfredsson says Condra’s performance in the shootout, where he outlasted every player by scoring over and over again, was the biggest surprise of all. It also helped put Alfredsson’s team on top.

“We’ve been fighting hard all these years and we rallied at the end, with the relay and the shootout at the end,” said Alfredsson, wearing a wide smile. “In the beginning, it’s all fun, but you want to do the best you can. You could tell with the hardest shot. The guys are checking their sticks and wondering why they’re not shooting harder. Spezza came through big for us a couple of times today and he was probably the MVP of our team.”

Alfredsson joked that if his Team Black had lost on Wednesday, they would have been forced to skate extra laps following practice on Thursday.

 

Puck Control Relay: Winner: Team Red. (Nick Foligno, Chris Neil, Bobby Butler)

 

Individual Relay: Minor Hockey Winner: Team Red (Nicolas Patry-Gingras)

Senators Winner: Milan Michalek* (Bobby Butler disqualified)

 

Fastest Skater:

Minor Hockey Winner: Team Red (Etienne Vivash, 15.404)

Senators Team Winner: Team Red (Colin Greening, Kyle Turris, Nick Foligno)

Senators Individual Winner: Colin Greening (13.434)

Hardest Shot

Preliminary Round: Team Black: Jason Spezza (102.6 mph)

Championship Round: Team Black: Jason Spezza (103.8 mph)

 

Accuracy Shooting:

Minor Hockey Winner: Team Red: Nicholas Patry-Gingras (4 for 7)

Preliminary Round: Team Black: Jason Spezza (4 for 4)

Championship Round: Team Red: Nick Foligno (1 for 1)

 

Skills Challenge: Winner: Team Black

Breakaway Relay: Minor Hockey Winner, Part I: Team Red: (Daniel Hennessy, Etienne Vivash, Adam Neville)

Minor Hockey Winner, Part II: Team Red: (Nicholas Patry-Gingras, Anthony Beauchamp, Adam Neville)

Elimination Shootout Winner: Team Black (Erik Condra)

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