The Saskatoon Blades continued their preseason over the weekend, playing Moose Jaw in back to back games. Unfortunately, they came out on the bottom end of both games.
On Friday I had my first chance to call a game for the team. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It definitely wasn’t my best call, as it still is pre-season for broadcasters too!
Riding the bus to Moose Jaw was also great, getting to sit up front with the man himself Lorne Molleken, Jack Brodsky and assistant coaches Dave Struch and Jerome Engele.
I also got to meet a few more of the players including Duncan Siemens, projected to be a top 15 pick in this coming NHL entry draft.
It was also my first experience visiting the Crushed Can in Moose Jaw. What a building that is. I have driven by it on several occasions when visiting the Jaw for hockey when I was younger, but I had never been inside. It is the final year for the Can this year, and it sounds like the Warriors and the city is excited about the new arena and how it looks so far during construction.
Anyways, the highlight of the entire trip was getting to finally see Morgan Rielly in action. Les Lazaruk and I had the chance to visit with Warriors coach Dave Hunchak before the game and he assured us the slick skating defenseman was the real deal.
Once he hit the ice it was obvious that that was true.
Rielly has been a standout for the last couple of years, playing in Notre Dame.
As a bantam in 2008-2009, the Vancouver, BC native registered an amazing 84 points in only 43 games for Notre Dame. That included 41 goals, and 43 assists. Wow.
That was enough wow to be drafted 2nd overall in the 2009 WHL bantam draft by the Moose Jaw Warrirors.
He got bumped to midget last season, and was still very impressive. He registered 55 points in 43 games during the regular season. In the playoffs he added 9 more points, including 7 goals. The Midget AAA Hounds also won the provincial championship and the Telus Cup.
Safe to say I was excited to watch this kid.
He didn’t disappoint.
He is a fluid and graceful skater. That was definitely the first thing that I noticed about him. It was effortless and he wasn’t afraid to rush the puck. In fact, during the game on Friday night he rushed the puck up the ice untouched 4 or 5 times.
At only 16 he also has a head for the game. He knew where to be at what times and was able to break up a few plays just based on positioning alone. He has decent upper body strength and defends the position well for someone so young.
This fall he topped out at 6’0 and 190 pounds. That’s an inch taller and 12 pounds heavier than last winter. I also think that he can grow another inch or two, and gain another 5-10 pounds in the next year or two.
He ended up getting one assist in a 3-2 Moose Jaw shootout win and Les and I named him as the first star of the game. He was clearly the best player on the ice for either team during a game that featured several 20 year old's.
His NHL draft year is still two years away, not until 2012 and he is already listed among the potential top 15 or 20 picks. The sky is truly the limit for him. I am not a fan of giving player comparisons, because that could involve expectations. But if I had to compare anyone to Rielly, it would have to be Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks. Both are around average size, are magical skaters, are left handed shots and play the game very solid both ways.
This kid is going to be fun to watch grow over the next number of seasons, and it is clear at this point that the Moose Jaw Warriors will have atleast one stud on their blueline for the next several years.