Saska­toon prod­uct gets look by Coy­otes

WHL vet­eran with NHL deal re­mains fo­cused on prov­ing his doubters wrong

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - DAR­REN ZARY dzary@post­media.com

Lane Ped­er­son loves to prove peo­ple wrong.

That, more than any­thing, drives him to get bet­ter as a hockey player.

Ped­er­son was over­looked twice in the Na­tional Hockey League En­try Draft. He remembers it well.

“When I didn’t go af­ter my 18-year-old (sea­son), it was def­i­nitely a lit­tle dis­cour­ag­ing at first,” re­called the 20-year-old Ped­er­son, who is on his way to the NHL’s Phoenix Coy­otes’ camp af­ter sign­ing an en­try-level con­tract early last Oc­to­ber as a non-drafted free agent.

“I thought that I had a (2015-16) sea­son (with 20 goals and 35 as­sists for 55 points in 72 games) in which I thought I put my­self in a po­si­tion where I might be picked, but af­ter feel­ing sorry for my­self for an hour or two, I just made it my mo­ti­va­tion, right?

“It’s what kind of pushed me to prove peo­ple wrong, so that I de­serve the right to be drafted and I de­serve where I am to­day, that I can play and I can hope­fully one day be a pro­fes­sional hockey player and make a ca­reer out of it.”

Ped­er­son, a Saska­toon mi­nor hockey prod­uct, spent the past three sea­sons in the WHL with the Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos, the Red Deer Rebels and the Seat­tle Thun­der­birds, who orig­i­nally took him in the fifth round, 91st over­all, in the 2012 WHL Ban­tam Draft.

Last year, Ped­er­son at­tended Phoenix’s devel­op­ment camp and then rookie camp from there, im­press­ing the Coy­otes brass along the way as a bit of a rev­e­la­tion.

“I guess it was a bit of a sur­prise (to sign), but, hav­ing said that, I had been down to Arizona for train­ing camp and I thought I had a re­ally good train­ing camp,” of­fered Ped­er­son, a six-foot-one, 196-pound cen­tre­man.

“I showed well and I just kept prov­ing and I maybe even sur­prised my­self a lit­tle bit that I went a lit­tle fur­ther than I thought I would have had, get­ting a chance to play an NHL ex­hi­bi­tion game. It was pretty ex­cit­ing and a pretty cool mo­ment for my­self.”

The Coy­otes hinted that a con­tract of­fer was a real pos­si­bil­ity.

“They then in­formed me at my exit meet­ing that they were go­ing to try and sign me in time, that if they could get a num­ber back that worked,” re­called Ped­er­son. “I was ex­tremely happy and when (agent) Ja­son (David­son of Thun­der Creek Man­age­ment) let me know he got a deal done, I was pretty ex­cited. It was one of the most ex­cit­ing mo­ments of my life, to date. It’s the big­gest thing to hap­pen to me and my hockey ca­reer so far. Yeah, it was su­per ex­cit­ing.”

He said the Coy­otes like that he’s a big, right-handed, two-way cen­tre­man and a smart player who makes his team­mates bet­ter.

“They see a lot of up­side in that,” said Ped­er­son.

“They like my size (as a cen­tre) and my abil­ity to play both sides of the puck. I’m strong on face­offs. I can be re­spon­si­ble in my own zone and I can chip in of­fen­sively.

“I can take care of my own zone, but I see my­self as an of­fen­sive guy, too. I can con­tribute a lot of­fen­sively. I’m good with the puck and I have good vi­sion and I can make plays for my­self and my wingers around me.”

Ped­er­son, who played in Saska­toon’s Bob­cats zone, went on to play Ban­tam AA for the Gen­er­als un­der Scotty Owens and the Saska­toon Midget AAA Blaz­ers.

What’s been the key to his devel­op­ment?

“Prob­a­bly the peo­ple who sup­port me, my fam­ily and my friends,” replied Ped­er­son.

“I’ve had some down time and some ad­ver­sity to go through, but I’ve al­ways had peo­ple to help pick me up and en­cour­age me and keep mov­ing me for­ward. I think that’s been a key rea­son for my devel­op­ment as I keep work­ing hard with a goal in mind. Ev­ery sum­mer, I wanted to get bet­ter and prove peo­ple wrong that I’m bet­ter than peo­ple may think. It’s some­thing that I’ve been do­ing most of my life in hockey.

“I’ve def­i­nitely proven peo­ple wrong.”

I’ve al­ways had peo­ple to help pick me up and en­cour­age me and keep mov­ing me for­ward.

FILES

The Phoenix Coy­otes like the fact Lane Ped­er­son is a big, smart, right-handed two-way player who has the abil­ity to make his team­mates bet­ter. Ped­er­son is on his way to the Coy­otes’ camp.

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