Jake Baker's weekend started and ended with a grind.
The 20-year-old, Port Moody-based defenceman wrapped up his stay at the Vancouver Canucks' prospect camp Tuesday morning by taking part in the Grouse Grind.
It was a fitting bookend to a process that began Friday with a series of off-ice drills that included the dreaded Wingate test - a tool that sees players strapped onto a workout bike and pushed to their anaerobic limits.
"It was super hard and you almost faint after you're done. That one was tough," Baker said Tuesday.
A six-foot-five product of Northern Michigan University, Baker is coming off a rookie season that saw him post a goal and seven assists in 36 contests. He was given the school's Don Waddell Best Freshman award on top of being named as an honourable mention for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's All Rookie team.
Though he's undrafted, Baker did enough in his first year in the collegiate hockey loop to draw the attention of both the Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers.
But unlike prized signing Justin Schultz - who agreed to terms with the Oilers on Saturday - Baker chose to go the hometown route.
"I was pretty excited to get the invite. Vancouver has been my favourite team growing up, so it was pretty sweet. I got some other invites as well, but of course I'm going to choose my hometown team," he said.
Outside of The Grind and other off-ice tests, the 35 players in camp were focused predominantly on skill development. Canucks' brass filmed each player's skating stride and honed in on what it takes to improve, while seminars were also held around cooking and nutrition.
"The coaches told me they liked how I looked at camp, and that they'll keep watching me - they want to stay in touch," Baker said. "I felt really good about myself and what I was able to accomplish out there."
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