North American Skater
HEIGHT: 6' 0"
Weight: 176
Born: 02/07/1990
Mid Term Rank: 1
Nationality: Canadian
Club: Sarnia
League: OHL

On his style of play:  I like to see myself as a complete hockey player.  When a lot of people look at me, they kind of base my game strictly on offense.  And I definitely enjoy scoring goals and getting assists, but I think what separates me from a lot of people is my ability to play defense, as well, and just my fearlessness out there.  I'm not afraid to go into the corner and rough it up, whether it be after the whistle, stuff like that. I take pride in my defensive game as well as my offensive game.  As for my strengths, I think my skating is definitely something that I really tried to improve on the last couple of years, and I think it's at the level where I want it to be at this part of the career.  That would definitely be my greatest strength out there.


On patterning his game after Alex Ovechkin:   Well, with Alex Ovechkin coming into the League, I like his style of play.  Like me, he's not afraid to rough it up out there.  You see him throwing some pretty big hits, and he just loves scoring goals and using his speed; and creativity out there on the ice and I think that's definitely someone that I like to pattern my game after.


On his behind the back shootout move at the 2007 OHL All-Star Skills competition: I saw Rob Schremp do it, might have been the AHL All-Star Game, maybe a week before the OHL All-Star Game.  I thought it was pretty cool, I watched it a couple of times and tried it out in practice leading up to the OHL All-Star Game. When I found out I was doing the two events, the fastest skater and the breakaway -- I did the fastest skater first and bailed in the final turn and I didn't want to be the guy that all the fans knew as the guy that fell, so I knew I had to pull something pretty spectacular in the All-Star shootout, so I went down, and luckily for me, it worked, and it had not gone topshelf like that in practice, so I think someone was on my side there.


On getting his start in hockey:   Well, my dad was definitely the biggest influence on my hockey career.  He had a great passion and love for the game, and he introduced me at a very young age.  I mean, I can remember being in the jolly jumper with a mini-stick in my hand all the time, and he would take me public skating.  I think it was when I was two and a half or three years old, I would be pushing the chair, and I just loved it.  I never wanted to come off the ice. I started with organized hockey, and my parents were always there supporting me and taking me to practices at six in the morning.  And when I kind of got older and kind of realized that I was pretty good at this sport, my dad, he would take me to the hockey schools to improve on my skills, and I guess it's paid off.


On what sets him apart from other athletes:  My competitiveness for sure.  I hate losing, and I've been fortunate to play on some really great teams, whether it was with soccer, lacrosse, baseball or hockey, I've been part of some pretty spectacular teams that have great coaching and just playing all those different sports definitely helped me not only in that sport but as a person off the ice just making new friends.  I think every sport had a particular thing -- just something that would help me in hockey, whether it was hand-eye coordination or conditioning. I think that was probably one of best things for me was to experience those different sports, and then when I realized hockey was something that I loved and I just stuck with it.


On when he realized being drafted into the NHL was a possibility:   I would have to say my OHL draft year.  Growing up playing minor hockey, I was always one of the smaller guys, and coming into my OHL draft year, I kind of had a bit of a growth spurt.  And I trained really hard in the summer and I think midway through that OHL draft year, I kind of realized that I had a chance if I kept progressing well and I kept working hard at my game.  And coming into that season, I had no clue that I would be drafted that high to the OHL -- I kind of surprised myself there. I just kept working hard and I went to a great organization in the Sarnia Sting, with a great coaching staff led by Dave McQueen, and they had confidence in me from day one.  It's definitely helped me out there on the ice.


On his superstitions: I'm a pretty superstitious guy when it comes to how the team is doing or how I'm doing.  I take a pre-game nap and listen to the same two songs on my iPod before my nap and before every game.  That's something I've been doing since I came to the OHL.  I can remember this year, our team had lost four or five games in a row, so a couple of us bleached our hair just to change up our luck, and we went on a four-game winning streak. So just little things like that, whether it's doing something with my hair, changing the color of the tape on my stick, just little things.  I know they might not mean much to the normal person but I'm a pretty superstitious guy, so I definitely think about that stuff.


On his favorite NHL player growing up:   I can remember my dad's favorite player was Toronto’s Wendel Clark.  When I was born on February 7, my dad was actually watching a Leafs game and he had a little medallion made up from the ticket stub of that game.  That was pretty special for me.  So I really enjoyed watching Wendel Clark when he was in Toronto.  And then guys like Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic come to mind, just how great leaders they are and I definitely idolized those guys growing up.


On playing for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships:  That was the ultimate dream come true for me.  I can remember sitting at home for probably the past eight years on Boxing Day just anticipating the first puck drop at the World Junior Championships.  I watched every game with my parents, and I never dreamed of being there at the age of 17; and I guess my work in the summer and just my love for the game paid off and I was able to earn a spot on the team. Just being able to put that jersey on for the first time, representing your country at a world-class tournament like that was a tremendous honor; and then when you step out on to the ice for the first time, you just have chills down your back and you just realize that you've accomplished your goal. Then to go out there and win the gold medal with a great bunch of guys like we had, that was just the icing on the cake, and it's definitely something I'll remember for a very long time.


On winning the World Junior Championships in overtime:   Well, they actually scored the shift I had just come off.  So I just remember being on the ice and Coach Hartsburg called me and Holzapfel to go out there for the four-on-four, and that was probably the most nerve-wracking experience of my hockey career.  You don't want to be the guys that are known for getting scored on. I think I got the puck and we just dumped it and changed as soon as we could.  Before you knew it, Mathias brought the puck from outside and Halischuk banged it in.  And all I remember is see the ref pointing to the net and signaling the goal and all of us that were on the bench just jumped.  And I guess that's the best way to win is in overtime, but the worst way to lose for Sweden.


On seeing last year’s opponents, Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner, playing in the NHL: I definitely use that as motivation for me, playing in Sarnia last year, I got to see a lot of those two guys in London and they were spectacular players in the OHL.  To see how well they are doing right now in the NHL and they are both very young, and I'm pretty much in the same position as they were last year playing in the OHL.  Just to see them accomplish their dream and know that I can hopefully follow in their footsteps and know what it takes to get to the next level, it's definitely something I look forward to and something I really use as motivation, because I know if they can do it, then I can do it, as well.


On his thoughts heading into the Draft:  I'll probably have a little nerves heading into the draft.  But if I could foretell the future, it's probably going to be the happiest day of my life when you hear your name called there for your National Hockey League team.  It's every Canadian kid’s dream who grows up playing hockey, whether it's street hockey or on the ice, they are always maybe saying in their head that they can play for an NHL team, and for me, that's definitely going to be the happiest day of my life when I hear my name called.


On spending time away from the rink: Well, I'm a pretty personable guy.  I love spending time with friends and family. Away from the rink I'm just like any other teenager; I like playing video games with other guys on the team, catching a movie, going out for wings, stuff like that.  Sometimes it's nice just to get away from the rink, and take your mind off hockey, playing in the major junior hockey league is pretty demanding mentally and physical, so when just get away from the rink and spend time with your friends it's always fun.


On his most embarrassing hockey moment:   My most embarrassing hockey moment came last year when we were playing the London Knights.  It was the last game before the Christmas break, and it was on Sportsnet, so it was televised nationally across Canada. I remember getting pretty excited for that game, and it was a great game, went into overtime.  I had a few chances, but I couldn't score.  And then it went into the shootout and I remember with the Sarnia/London rivalry it was packed in our arena. I had a chance to win it and the crowd was going crazy, everyone was standing up and I could just remember being so nervous going up to the puck in the shootout, and I went down and I went to make a move and I can remember the puck just going flying into the corner.  And I didn't even get a shot off.  It was on national TV and I can remember just going back to the bench and I think I broke my stick over the boards. I went home the next day and watched my old minor midget team and I remember getting heckled coming into the rink.  One guy asked me what I was going to ask Santa for Christmas, and if it was how to take a shootout.  So that was pretty embarrassing for me.


On his favorite NHL player:   My favorite NHL player is Joe Sakic, because he's so smart out there. He’s a great leader and he makes all his teammates better.


On the one show he would like to be in: I think One Tree Hill, I don't know if that's pretty embarrassing but in Sarnia a lot of us love that show, and I think we're on the fifth season now, so we're pretty into it.


On his favorite food to cook:   My favorite food to cook is pancakes.  I'm a pretty big breakfast cooker.  Anything to do with pancakes, add a little chocolate chips in there and we were laughing.