Ol­son set for bat­tle with blue­line buddy

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS -

— “Last year we had a real good team but came up short. It was tough the way we went out but I’m pretty proud of that first ban­ner we’ll put up in the rink. It’s a big ac­com­plish­ment for this or­ga­ni­za­tion and you keep tak­ing steps and pretty soon those rafters will be full of ban­ners.”

Collins still has pro am­bi­tions but if that op­por­tu­nity doesn’t come to him, as­sum­ing he plays in the WHL this year, he’ll have four years of paid univer­sity ahead of him. Collins has been an hon­ours stu­dent through­out his school days and has plans to study busi­ness.

“That ed­u­ca­tion schol­ar­ship would be tough to give up but if you have a chance to play pro it’s a no-brainer, you’re go­ing to take it and that’s the goal,” he said. “I have to have a good year and get some in­ter­est and hope­fully I’ll find a spot.”

Tate Ol­son is the other re­turn­ing 20-year-old de­fence­man, back from a team which had a whop­ping 13 1997-born play­ers. He ar­rived Tues­day from his home in Saska­toon and was back on the ice Thurs­day for his first skate with the Cougars since the play­offs in April. He says he no longer feels any pain in his shoul­der but he’s not ex­pected to be ready to play un­til early Novem­ber.

Picked by the Van­cou­ver Canucks in the sev­enth round in 2015, Ol­son fo­cused more on his de­fen­sive game last sea­son and his pro­duc­tion dropped from 47 points in 2015-16 to 24 last sea­son. He at­tended two Canuck camps but went un­signed and is now a free agent. Like Collins, he has three sea­sons of WHL ex­pe­ri­ence and it would be tough for the Cougars to part with him.

Cougars coaches Richard Matvichuk and Shawn Cham­bers are for­mer Stan­ley Cup-win­ning NHL de­fence­men, both en­ter­ing their sec­ond sea­son with the Cougars,

There’s only three spots avail­able for overagers and it’s out of our con­trol, what­ever they de­cide.

and Ol­son wants to be around them again.

“I think I’m more com­posed on the ice, not as er­ratic and I don’t get out of po­si­tion as much, and I think that’s one of the big­gest things (he’s learned from the Cougar coaches), stay­ing closer to home and not be­ing way too crazy out on the ice – be­ing bet­ter de­fen­sively is def­i­nitely stressed,” said Ol­son.

“(The NHL camps) showed me what ev­ery­one’s do­ing at the next level and it makes you want to be one of them, ob­vi­ously. It just comes down to how much you want to do it. There’s 30 other teams out there and (get­ting dropped by the Canucks) is not the end of the world.”

Be­cause Ol­son is on in­jured re­serve, the Cougars can keep him for another two weeks af­ter he re­turns to the game-day lineup.

“There’s only three spots avail­able for overagers and it’s out of our con­trol, what­ever they de­cide,” said Ol­son. “Shane is prob­a­bly one of my best buddies on the team but I guess it’s me and him against each other right now. You just have to go out and play and do your own job and if you play well enough it will make their choice for them.

“It would be nice to win here, I haven’t won a play­off se­ries since I’ve been here. I think ev­ery­one has a bit­ter taste from that last year, so that comes as mo­ti­va­tion.”

— Tate Ol­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.