From the Shore to the Desert
NOTE: Cam Dineen of Toms River was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in the third round of the NHL Draft on June 25. His girlfriend, Samantha LaBianca, was among the 20 or so family members and friends who attended the draft at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. The 18-year old Dineen, who attended Toms River High School North, spent last year with the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League and his 59 points (13 goals, 46 assists) was second among rookie who played in the league. LaBianca spoke to Dineen about his first impressions in Arizona and wrote this story.
Early Sunday morning on July 3, Cam Dineen was headed off to the Arizona Coyote's rookie camp, a week after being drafted in the third round (68th overall) by the National Hockey League franchise. Phoenix is a far from his home in Toms River, but being away from home is nothing new for Dineen. As for the challenge of competing with other rookies...well he’s always had to prove himself because he’s a defender who stands just 5-foot-11 and weighs 180 pounds. He may not make for an imposing sight, but his production has earned him rave reviews, and his greatest attribute is said to be his ability to see the ice.
Driving to the airport, Dineen was mentally preparing himself for a five-hour, cross-country flight and the insane heat he was about to experience. Like most athletes, sitting still for that long is very hard to do.
"I just tried my best to take a nap and then I watched a movie and listened to music," Dineen said.
Right when the plane touched down, Dineen said he could feel the heat from outside. All he really had on his mind was the opportunity he was about to have.
"I was really anxious to get to the rink and see the facility, the Coyotes staff, and meet some of the players," Dineen said. "I was also really excited to see the area."
Arriving at the hotel, Dineen found out that his defensive partner from the North Bay Battalion was going to be his roommate for the week.
"It definitely made me feel more comfortable right away," Dineen said "I went in not really knowing anyone and having one of my friends as my roommate is awesome. He has told me stories about past camps and his experiences, so I know what to look forward to."
Dineen said the camp so far has been how he expected it to be.
"So far we have had a couple individual skills practices, which have been hard but fun at the same time," Dineen said. "We have also done some fitness testing and just some simple workouts. Going to the (Arizona) Diamondbacks (baseball) game as a group was cool and the stadium was amazing."
Dineen has loved everything about his visit to Arizona with the Coyotes and soon hopes to play in that maroon and gold uniform.
"The weather here is pretty crazy, it’s a lot different than New Jersey," Dineen said. "The heat is completely different. The area is really cool and somewhere I hope to be in the future. The coaches, GM, and scouts are all great people and really welcomed us all in right away."