Scott, Stallard add experience, leadership from NHL camps
Prince Albert Raiders goalie Ian Scott always knew that teammate Parker Kelly plays like a pest.
But he only experienced it firsthand over the summer with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Drafted in the fourth round (110th overall) by the Leafs, Scott played against Kelly and the Ottawa Senators in a game for each respective team’s rookie camp showcase.
The tenacious forward didn’t score any goals, and though he came close to it, Scott says another memory sticks out for him about Kelly.
“I remember him breaking my stick behind the net one time,” Scott said with a chuckle.
That, plus trying to see pucks around Kelly, who’d park right in front of his net, made Scott appreciate having the Senators’ signee as a teammate rather than an opponent in the WHL, he said.
Scott and fellow teammate Jordy Stallard enter the 201718 season as two of the Raiders’ four returnees from NHL training camps over the late summer and early fall. (Kelly and defenceman Vojtech Budik are the other two players.)
The 18-year-old netminder says that the speed of the NHL was one of the first things that struck him.
“I picked up my pace. Plays happen a lot quicker. You gotta be almost one step ahead,” he said.
To that end, Leafs’ starter Frederik Andersen was helpful in teaching him that at the rink – on or off the ice – it’s always business; relaxing and unwinding only happens away from the rink.
Scott wouldn’t say whether forwards Auston Matthews and William Nylander sniped any shots past him, but he did say that playing alongside them put the game in perspective.
“Those big-name guys during main camp and practices: It was the skill they have and the hockey sense they have; their shots and accuracy, it was a real eye-opener,” he said.
Scott said he hopes his experiences with the Leafs are something he can contribute to help teammates Nicholas Sanders and Curtis Meger, especially as the latter two shoulder the load for Scott while he’s out with a lower-body injury.
“We all lean on each other in the room. There are things I can learn from them, and there are things they can ask me about. So I think it’s just a good circle.”
Stallard was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 2016 in the fifth round of the NHL draft (127th overall), and he finished his second camp with the prairie hockey team this year.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to get drafted,” he said. “But you get there and you get your eyes opened to what it’s like to be a pro player and what level you have to be at,” he said.
“As far as gameplay, it’s the speed and the level of how professional everyone is on and off the ice,” Stallard said.
Skating and playing with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele helped acclimatize him to the pro-level demands that he’ll be expected to meet, he said.
Now entering his fourth year in the WHL and designated as one of the team’s alternate captains, the 20-year-old centre said that also dealing with a shoulder injury gave him an added bit of mental toughness.
The injury included surgery and six months of rehabbing his shoulder, effectively ending his 2016-17 season eight games after the Raiders traded for him from Calgary.
“(It) tested my mental strength at times, but in the end I think it was good for me, because I know what I have to do to get to the next level now.”
He’s also looking forward to improving his defensive zone game, which the Jets assigned him to work on throughout the season, along with getting bigger and stronger, he said.
Head coach Marc Habscheid says he’s seen the change his veteran centreman.
“Going to camps, your confidence always improves. But it seems like he wants to make a difference, he wants to take charge, he wants to be the guy,” Habscheid said.
That means Habscheid and the team’s coaches are expecting to see results from the Jets’ draftee.
“He’s put in offensive situations, so to whom much is given, much is expected. He’s gotta produce for us offensively and as a leader as well. At the same time, he’s gotta play well defensively,” he said.
Prince Albert Raiders centre Jordy Stallard follows the puck during a drill at practice on Tuesday at the Art Hauser Centre.