Ger­lach happy to shift fo­cus back to WHL

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - RYAN McCRACKEN rm­c­cracken@medicine­hat­news.com Twit­ter: MHNMcCracken

He may have gone un­drafted but Max Ger­lach cer­tainly made the most of his off­sea­son.

The 19-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers sniper re­turned the Gas City af­ter tak­ing part in train­ing camp with the Ari­zona Coy­otes — cap­ping off a sum­mer filled with mile­stone mo­ments.

“It’s def­i­nitely been hec­tic. When I fi­nally got onto the last plane (Wed­nes­day) — I had to get on three dif­fer­ent planes — I was fi­nally like, ‘OK, I can 100 per cent fo­cus on this,’” said Ger­lach, who com­peted at the IIHF World Ju­nior Sum­mer Show­case as one of just two WHL play­ers on Team USA, as well as join­ing the Coy­otes for two camps. “I gained a lot of con­fi­dence from the (Sum­mer Show­case) as well as my time at de­vel­op­ment camp and at this camp. Now I fi­nally get to be done with that and I’m here for the rest of the sea­son.”

Ger­lach added fall train­ing camp fea­tured a very steep in­cline in com­pe­ti­tion from July’s de­vel­op­ment camp, which al­lowed him some im­por­tant in­sight re­gard­ing the ar­eas of his game that re­quire fine-tun­ing.

“The in­ten­sity def­i­nitely ramps up but it’s a lot of fun,” said Ger­lach, adding he needs to im­prove on his strength above all else. “They’re grown men so they’re re­ally strong and I’ve got to be able to with­stand some of that and be more slip­pery in the cor­ners. I’ve got to keep my feet mov­ing at all times and be com­fort­able with the puck. I think the best play­ers are com­fort­able in all sit­u­a­tions and that’s some­thing I’ll have to con­tinue to work on here.”

Com­pet­ing along­side ris­ing tal­ent like Chris­tian Fis­cher, Dy­lan Strome and Clay­ton Keller at the Prospect Show­case in San Jose, Ger­lach says he was able to see he where sits among some of Ari­zona’s top-tier prospects, and it hasn’t di­min­ished his con­fi­dence.

“It was re­ally ex­cit­ing to see where I stand against those guys,” said Ger­lach, who recorded 34 goals and 28 as­sists with Medicine Hat last sea­son, and stands poised to fill an even big­ger role with the club this sea­son. “It was a lot of fun and a great learn­ing curve.”

While he was re­leased from the team prior to its tran­si­tion into main camp and pre-sea­son com­pe­ti­tion, Ger­lach was left feel­ing con­fi­dent about his po­ten­tial fu­ture with the Coy­otes fol­low­ing an exit in­ter­view with gen­eral man­ager John Chayka and as­sis­tant gen­eral man­agers Steve Sul­li­van and Chris O’Hearn.

“When you’re talking to those guys in­stead of the de­vel­op­ment guys it’s ob­vi­ously re­ally ex­cit­ing,” said Ger­lach. “They’re go­ing to keep a close eye on me and look at me as though I’m a draft pick of theirs. I’ll have some­one watch­ing me every night, which is ex­cit­ing.”

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