Many are familiar with most of the Leaf blueliners in the pipeline. Names like Chartier, Zion, Svoboda, Pilar, Colaiacovo among others are either CHL products or overseas skaters that arrived with much fanfare. However, one name without either of these advantages might be worth taking note of in Regan Kelly. Kelly, going into his sophomore year at Providence College in the powerful Hockey East Conference of the NCAA, was obtained when Toronto peddled Chris MacAllister to the Philadelphia Flyers before the 2000/2001 season. Friars Coach Paul Pooley likes what he sees in Kelly to date and feels that he can only get better.
While admitting that “any defenseman needs to work at his pivot” he is also quick to point out that skating “is one of the strengths of the package” his young charge brings to the table with both his straight ahead speed and lateral movement being solid parts of his game. This naturally helps him out in the transition game and his coach lauds his ability to “make a playable (first) pass” although he will use the boards if nothing presents itself. On the rush he “reads the play well” and while “not an end to end rusher” in the mold of Bryan Berard, he knows how to “use his teammates” and “is adept at losing himself in the offense”. Once in the opposition zone Kelly presents a wide array of options for the others players on his team. He “makes himself a good target for passes” by separating from his mark and is “solid at keeping the puck in” when the opposition attempts to clear able to use both his hands and body in addition to his stick to get it done in this regard. However, what truly makes him a threat is “a low accurate shot that is tippable” and his “ability to see the shot/pass at the side of the crease” and use it when the opportunity presents itself.
On the other side of the puck the sophomore uses his skating skills to exhibit “solid positional play.” Pooley remarks that Kelly is “physical enough” to handle the rough going in front of the net and is “very good at lifting an opponent’s stick” at the opportune moment. While his shotblocking is not up to par, he will “square to the puck and go down on one knee”. The Coach points out that this is due more to the scheme he plays as rearguards are encouraged to stay on their feet at Providence. A further bonus to the blueliner’s game is that he is “adept at shadowing” an opposition sniper, which is no mean feet considering the wider-open nature of the NCAA game. The Providence bench boss goes on to comment that “Kelly logged the third most icetime of the defense as a freshman last season and with both of those ahead of him graduating, he will be counted on to step up this year.” That Pooley didn’t hesitate to use 20 year old in every type of situation in 2000/2001 bodes well for his future as a Friar and beyond.
HOCKEY’S FUTURE AND STEPHEN J. HOLODINSKY WOULD LIKE TO THANK PROVIDENCE FRIAR HEAD COACH PAUL POOLEY FOR HIS INPUT ON THIS PROFILE OF REGAN KELLY.