It’s certainly an important summer for Steelheads All-Rookie goaltender Landon Bow. After bursting onto the pro scene in his first season with one of the best campaigns ever put together by a Steelheads goalie, Bow caught the attention of the entire Dallas Stars organization. Last weekend he took to the ice with other rising Stars to continue making his case for an NHL roster spot in the future.
The Stars hosted their annual development camp in Frisco, Texas last week, gathering together recent draft picks and prospects for a few days on the ice, along with some off-ice testing. Bow had been there last summer, a summer in which he had wrapped up his junior career and signed a two-way AHL contract with the Texas Stars.
One year later, Bow now has an NHL contract with Dallas and a different feel on the ice with Dallas’ other top prospects.
“It was different this year in the sense that I was a little more comfortable in the organization. I’ve been a part of it now for a whole season,” said Bow, who also played 16 games last season in AHL Texas. “Last year coming in, I didn’t know too many people and I was never drafted, so I didn’t go through that process with the other guys my age. This year I knew a little more going in and I prepared myself better.”
That doesn’t just mean knowing the other players, but also the coaches throughout the organization who are going to play important roles in his continued development. Bow said that the camp was chiefly run on the ice by Texas Stars coaches, in addition to a coach from the Swedish Elite League and a professional skating coach. The goaltenders had the benefit of working with Dallas goaltending coach Jeff Reese and Texas goalie coach Jim Bedard.
“Development camp is all about getting back to basics. A lot of guys will have skated only a handful of times before coming to camp,” said Bow, noting that there was a great deal of focus on skating. “When you go in there it’s about getting everything back and getting a good feeling on the ice again.”
Off the ice, in addition to fitness testing and workouts, the Stars also make an effort to teach the young players what being a professional entails. Having been around the block for a year already, Bow had a better understanding of those seminars this time around.
“This entire past season, learning the ups and downs of professional hockey and what it takes to be a pro, that really helps you prepare for when you come in here,” said Bow. “They’re not just talking about all the on-ice and off-ice stuff that you have to do but also the life lessons you learn playing pro.”
“I can relate now, and it’s kind of cool to be an older mentor in a way for some of those young guys.”
It seems out of place to call a second-year pro still awaiting his 22nd birthday as one of the seasoned veterans. But at this camp, with many players hearing their names at the draft podium just over a week prior, Bow was just that.
Among those who had recently joined the Dallas family was first-round draft pick Jake Oettinger, a highly-touted goaltender out of Boston University. Bow and Oettinger are just two of a handful of promising goaltenders who worked together in camp, young men who know that they are all competing for the same job down the road. For now, no one in Frisco is competing for a spot, but only to get better.
“You want to make it a comradery thing because if you go out and hate the guys you’re playing with, that’s not a lot of fun,” laughed Bow. “We all have that competitive edge to us. That’s why we’ve all been successful and it’s why we’re all there. We all want to be the best.”
“Even though we can all be friends and we can all talk off the ice, when you’re on the ice you always want to be better than that guy beside you. You always want to outwork them. We’ll all be competing for a job someday, and it might not have been this weekend, but you still want to have that edge.”
Bow said the main focus of development was to be a “sponge.” Every player in camp will be monitored closely throughout the coming year wherever they play. But now that they have dispersed from Frisco, every player must take those lessons learned and apply them to their summer regimen to prepare for the camps this fall where teams will be decided.
For Bow, this summer has been concentrated on improving his strength. He has been working for two months at home in Edmonton with strength coach Barry Butt, saying he’s already stronger than he was at any point last year as he eyes the next big summer showcase.
“I just have to keep my training up. I’ll be working with a goalie coach here,” said Bow. “I need to make sure that when I head to the rookie tournament in Traverse City that I’m going to be in the best possible shape and give myself the best chance to make an impression this year.”
More battle-tested than he was a year ago, Bow will look to build on his impressive resume in Idaho, where he led the league in save percentage, was second in goals-against average, and won 19 games.
“It was an exciting year, and we did really well. I wish the playoff run went a little longer than it did, but numbers-wise I couldn’t be happier about how my first season went. As you go up every level, everything gets a little sharper and quicker. It’s just a matter of being ready to deal with that and being prepared to battle.”
Whether it’s in Idaho or Austin, Bow is putting in the work- Sharper, quicker, and ready to deal.