If Shane McColgan was eager to make a good first impression with the Kelowna Rockets, the timing couldn’t be better.
With Kelowna’s roster depleted by the absence of Jamie Benn and Tyler Myers (Canadian National Junior Team), Stepan Novotny (Czech Republic National Junior Team) and Kyle St. Denis and Tyson Barrie (injuries), McColgan was able to get some meaningful minutes in his two-game audition last week
McColgan, a right wing, who was the Rockets first round selection, 13th overall, in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, was the only US-born player to be selected in last year’s Bantam Draft. He won’t be eligible for the NHL draft until 2011.
For his part, McColgan has known for a few weeks that the two-game stint in the WHL was in the works. Upon completion of a tournament in Pittsburgh with the Los Angeles Junior Kings Midget AAA U18 team, McColgan was flown to Alberta and boarded the team bus. It was while riding that bus in Alberta with the Rockets, that McColgan told Hockey’s Future that he has enjoyed the experience thus far, despite the -25C temperatures that greeted him upon his arrival in Edmonton.
"Well, it’s definitely not California," laughed McColgan, who will celebrate his 16th birthday on New Year’s Day. "I’m getting used to it. And since I arrived, the guys have really been treating me well."
Until his two-game stint with Kelowna, McColgan was toiling with the Junior Kings, and through 24 regular season games, the Manhattan Beach, California native has posted nine goals and 22 assists, as well as accumulated 34 PIM.
Expected to join the Rockets full time after his midget season has completed, McColgan was happy to be playing with two other California guys on the Rockets. "I know Colin Long is a great player who I can learn from. And I know Mitch Callahan from the LA Junior Kings. He actually made the team this year but chose to come up to Kelowna this season."
Assessing his strengths, McColgan was candid. "I feel like I can pass well, and I know I can score," he said. "But I also know how important it is for me to help my defensemen down low."
According to the Junior Kings head coach, Jack Bowkus, "I think it did take him awhile to adapt his game to become an offensive-minded guy. But he definitely doesn’t ignore the defensive side."
McColgan is equally impressed with Bowkus. "He’s a great coach," McColgan said. "It really helps that he knows the WHL and he was willing to take the time to talk with me about it before I came up here."
Bowkus’ expectations for McColgan during the youngster’s two-game introduction to WHL play were realistic. "Shane is capable of logging plenty of ice time, maybe not large minutes at the junior level yet, but he really does demand more of himself than a lot of guys his age. He is an in-your-face player, who is not afraid of many things. He goes to traffic areas and he does mix it up in the corners, regardless of the size of his opponents. Shane will have to see what his body can do. He’ll need some coaching, I think, to maybe learn to pick his spots."
Apparently, McColgan is a quick study. It was only 37 seconds into his second WHL game that the young winger scored his first goal. Talk about good first impressions.
Beyond Tomorrow prospect radar
Cam Fowler (US-NTDP), a defenseman from Michigan, has been one of the top players on the U-18 team this year. The leading scorer among blueliners on the NTDP roster, Fowler, a late ’91, has recently signed a letter of intent to attend Notre Dame next fall. He’s eligible for the NHL draft in 2010.
Also signed to an Irish LOI is St. Catherine’s Falcons (GOJHL) leading scorer, center Riley Sheahan. With close to two points per game, Sheahan, another late ’91, is one of the top Junior "B" scorers in the province.
Brandon Gormley, the first overall pick in the 2008 QMJHL Entry Draft, has been proving to the Moncton Wildcats that they made an excellent choice. The 16-year-old defenseman is third among rookie blueliners in scoring, and has a +12 plus/minus rating.
Another 16-year-old defenseman has caught our attention, this time in the OHL. Erik Gudbranson, a big puck mover from Orleans, Ontario, has been patrolling the blueline for the Kingston Frontenacs. Although the Fronts are the team with the worst record in the league, Gudbranson is showing that he is a top prospect for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Kevin Sundher is a goal-scoring center in his rookie season with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins. With 11 goals and 9 assists at the Christmas break, Sundher is 11th in the league among rookies in scoring. Six of his points (five goals and one assist) have come in the month of December.
Anthony Bardaro, a late ’92, was tearing up the Pacific International Junior Hockey League before joining the BCHL Surrey Eagles earlier this month. After leading the PIJHL with 57 points in 27 games, the forward has four points in five games with the Eagles.
Last month we reported on 15-year-old Seth Ambroz, who continues to impress with the USHL Omaha Lancers. This month we add another USHL 2011 NHL Entry Draft-eligible to the radar. Defenseman Charlie Dodero, a Bloomingdale, Illinois native is a late ’92, who has played the last 18 games on the blueline for the Tri-City Storm. A defensive specialist, Dodero is already 6’1, 180.
Brandon Saad, a forward on the league-leading Mahoning Valley Phantoms, is in his rookie seasons in the NAHL. A late 92′, Saad is 6’2, 195, and has posted 18 points (11 goals, 7 assists) in 24 games.
Glen Erickson and Leslie Treff contributed to this article.