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NHL Scouting Combine bike tests wiping out players physically, mentally

By John Vogl

MISSISSAUGUA, Ont. -- The screams of "faster, keep it going, you've got to go!" are echoing through the International Centre today as the fitness portion of the NHL Scouting Combine is underway. As usual, the two bike tests are taking the biggest toll.

Dylan Larkin, the 17th-ranked prospect according to NHL Central Scouting, nearly collapsed off his bike this morning while taking part in the VO2 max. Players’ noses are blocked and a long plastic tube that measures oxygen intake is sealed over their mouths. Workers adjust the wheel tension, and the rider must maintain their RPM in a ride that can last 14 minutes.

Larkin was tended to by a half-dozen personnel before finally putting his head down on the handlbars for a few moments. He slowly walked off on his own minutes later.

"I’ve never been through anything like that," he said, still winded.

The Wingate bike test features players pedaling as fast as possible for 30 seconds with workers shouting encouragement. It can measure skating explosiveness, though it nearly made top-ranked European skater Kasperi Kapanen lose his mind.

"You’ve got that guy screaming at you and you just want to smack him at the same time," said the son of longtime NHLer Sami Kapanen. "It’s hard. The second one you just kind of get exhausted. You get really lightheaded, and I think I puked a little after that, so it’s not fun."

Here's what a Wingate looks like.

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

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Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |