Ottawa Citizen

HAVE GAME, WILL TRAVEL

Vis­it­ing teams go the ex­tra mile for Bell Cap­i­tal Cup ex­pe­ri­ence

- JOANNE IRE­LAND

UFA, Rus­sia • It was just a year ago Jonathan Drouin was mak­ing the jump from Midget Triple-A to the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League as a mem­ber of the Hal­i­fax Moose­heads.

Mak­ing a trip to the World Ju­nior Hockey Cham­pi­onship a year later cer­tainly wasn’t an ob­vi­ous flight path but there was no ig­nor­ing the for­ward’s game as he set about mak­ing his mark in ma­jor ju­nior, av­er­ag­ing al­most two points an out­ing with 48 points in 24 games.

Cana­dian head coach Steve Spott even made a trip to Hal­i­fax to scout the winger — as well as Nathan MacKin­non, who plays along­side Drouin with the Moose­heads — just to make sure he could back up the statis­tics.

Spott didn’t get an eye­ful of Drouin be­cause he was banged up and not in the lineup that night, but what he did get was an ear­ful of com­men­da­tions from his world ju­nior as­sis­tants Mario Duhamel and An­dre Tourigny, who both coach in the QMJHL, as well as Kevin Pren­der­gast, Hockey Canada’s head scout.

All three told Spott they had to in­vite Drouin to the camp in Cal­gary.

“I had never seen him un­til then but I be­came one of the guys in his fan club,” said Spott. “I just think he’s a tremen­dous player with elite hockey sense and he’s fear­less. He’s ab­so­lutely fear­less.

“He re­minds me of a Tay­lor Hall with the way he com­petes.”

That’s mighty heady praise and if the shifty Drouin con­tin­ues to im­press like he has in the early days of the world ju­niors, he could, like Hall, be on ev­ery team’s draft list when June rolls around.

Play­ing on Canada’s sec­ond line with Ryan Strome and Brett Ritchie, Drouin has leapfrogge­d past MacKin­non, the other 17-year-old whiz kid on the na­tional team. MacKin­non, who has had fourth line duty, has been pit­ted against Port­land Win­ter­hawks de­fence­man Seth Jones as the early favourite to se­cure the right as the first pick over­all.

Drouin, who grad­u­ated from the Lac St. Louis Lions, said he hasn’t been check­ing the early draft rank­ings and even if he was, he said his in­ten­tion in this tour­na­ment is not to el­e­vate his stock with his play.

“Nah, I’m not one of those guys. Right now a lot of peo­ple are talk­ing about it but I don’t really bother,” he said. “I have one goal and that’s the gold medal. I don’t really think about my draft stock. Maybe around June.”

In the mean­time, Drouin, who is check­ing in with this folks back home al­most daily, will keep his eyes fixed on the up­com­ing games against the U.S. and Rus­sia.

“It’s a lot of fun to be here, even though you’re not with your par­ents at Christ­mas,” he said. “It’s a cool city. We’re lik­ing it even, though there’s a lot of cold and snow. It’s just dif­fer­ent from Canada.

“It’s just fun to be here. I’m only 17. This is a really big step from last year when I was midget.”

It was dur­ing the play­offs last year that Drouin said he started to really catch fire. When he was able to pick up where he left off at the start of this sea­son, he fig­ured he might just be able to at least get an in­vite to camp.

“I had a really strong be­gin­ning and I just kept go­ing, so I think I earned my in­vite,” Drouin said. “Then I had a really good camp so that’s what brought me here.”

 ??  ??
 ?? NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS ?? Team Canada for­ward Jonathan Drouin, right, takes out Ger­man de­fence­man Florin Ket­terer, left, as Canada’s Ryan Strome, cen­tre, skates past dur­ing the first pe­riod of their IIHF World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships game in Ufa, Rus­sia.
NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS Team Canada for­ward Jonathan Drouin, right, takes out Ger­man de­fence­man Florin Ket­terer, left, as Canada’s Ryan Strome, cen­tre, skates past dur­ing the first pe­riod of their IIHF World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships game in Ufa, Rus­sia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada