Those familiar with the Brandon Wheat Kings will surely remember the vaunted “Fab Five,” a handful of talented juniors who made life miserable for WHL opponents. The group, which graduated following the 2004-05 season, included Eric Fehr, Ryan Stone, Tim Konsorada, Lance Monych and Steven Later.
And now, there would seem to be heirs in Brandon, albeit a trio this time around. Scott Glennie, Brayden Schenn and Matt Calvert took the WHL by storm last season, a forward line of youngsters that burst onto the scene and produced consist offensive performances.
“They were a dynamic line and gave us an opportunity to be successful,” said Brandon assistant coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk. “They were a big part of the team, definitely an impact line.”
For their efforts, Schenn was named the WHL’s Rookie of the Year and Calvert was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Glennie, who along with Schenn is eligible for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, established himself as a sniper, a threat to score every time he steps on the ice.
“It was a growing experience last year for Scotty,” Gylywoychuk said. “Coming straight out of midget hockey, well, any successes he had last year were well earned and well deserved.
“It was a feather in his cap making the U18 team and going there and excelling at that tournament. He’s learning that if he works hard and continues to do things well by using his assets, he’s got a bright future with us and on the whole.”
Glennie, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, played one year of midget hockey for the Winnipeg Wild under head coach Paul Kruger. In his rookie season in the WHL, Glennie collected 26 goals and 32 assists in 61 regular season games last year. He scored eight power-play goals and three game winners.
“Obviously it was a great year last year, playing with good guys like Schenn and Calvert,” Glennie said. “Last season was a lot of fun and we’re looking forward to going as far as we can in the playoffs and I hope we can win a championship.”
Speaking of championships, Glennie was a member of Team West at the 2008 World U17 Championship in London, Ontario. Along with Wheat Kings teammates Schenn and Brody Melnychuk, the crew picked up a bronze medal. And then in August, Glennie was a member of Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in the Czech Republic, where he chipped in with two goals and an assist in four games, en route to a gold medal. Schenn was also on the championship team.
“It was great to have my teammates and best friends there at the same time,” Glennie said. “Bringing home a gold medal with Schenn was terrific and the bronze was okay from the U17.
“It was a great experience, I mean it’s a real honor to play for Hockey Canada. After you do it a couple times, you just want to keep playing well so that the opportunities keep coming.”
To ensure the folks at Hockey Canada keep Glennie in their sights, he’ll have to continue to develop and produce consistently in Brandon. Recognized for his offensive prowess, Glennie will be paying special attention the defensive side of his game this season as he looks to become an even more complete player during his draft year.
There are also expectations from the coaching staff in Brandon. When ask specifically about those expectations, Glennie was almost smug in his reply, offering a glimpse at his level of confidence. There was a brash-like certainty in his demeanor, a comforting respite from the usual clichés delivered by players throughout the hockey world.
“I feel like I know what I have to do out there,” Glennie said.
A versatile forward, Glennie is clearly on the radar among NHL scouts.
“He is a good hockey player, highly skilled with natural goal scoring instincts,” said a veteran NHL scout from an upper echelon Western Conference team. “I’ve seen him play on the wing and in the middle, but I think I like him down the middle because of his creativity.”
When told about Glennie’s demeanor and comments regarding expectations from his coaches in Brandon, the NHL scout responded: “It sounds like he’s a kid who gets it. He probably understands what his abilities are and what the coaches want and what he has to do. He plays like he has no sense of panic. Kids that are not overly confident tend to hurry things.”
Part of the plan in Brandon this season is to move Glennie, Schenn and Calvert around. The trio will always be available to play together when need be, as a power-play unit or to jump start things offensively.
“We’ve moved them around a bit and it helps us to roll four lines,” Gylywoychuk said. “Especially on the road here where we don’t have the last change, we’re hoping all our lines can do some scoring. The three of them will see some power-play time and you know, it’s nice to know we have that combination in our back pocket when we need it. We’re trying to even out our scoring and hoping to see everybody succeed.”
Glennie said he is comfortable with the juggling act and he is also working hard to do the right things to become an even more complete player.
“It’s nice that the coaches put me in out there in different situations,” he said. “Obviously they feel confident in me. As far as what I think I have to do to improve, I want to become better in my defensive zone.”
Glennie is focused on doing what he has to do to remain healthy and productive this season. Through 20 games this season, he is scoring again, at a point-per-game clip with eight goals and 11 assists. And due to his offensive output last year, there is special attention being paid to the muscular, 6’1, 185-pounder.
“Well, you sure have to keep your head up out there with the guys coming after you,” Glennie said. “It’s really important to take care of yourself and you can’t allow yourself to be vulnerable.”