|Phoenix rookie forward Peder Skinner was selected to participate in the upcoming ECHL All-Star Game
thanks to a solid first half for the Roadrunners.
With 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 40 games, Skinner will represent Phoenix and the National Conference at the ECHL All-Star Game Wednesday night in Stockton, California. But this level’s All-Star Game isn’t your average exhibition game. It’s a chance for some young players to prove themselves in front of dozens of scouts who will surely be in attendance.
“I think anytime a young player at our level gets a chance to get some exposure, I think it’s important for them,” Phoenix coach Brad Church said. “Peder’s definitely earned his spot on the All-Star team. I think an All-Star setting is the environment that is right up Peder’s alley. He’s a skilled guy, so hopefully he can show his stuff there.”
While Church said he’s not surprised by what Skinner has been able to accomplish, there’s little doubt that at least some people around the ECHL have been a tad shocked by his success. Heck, even the 21-year-old admitted he didn’t expect to make such an impact on the Roadrunners after spending the previous two seasons with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, where he put up 125 points in 104 games.
“I didn’t really have any expectations,” Skinner told NHL.com. “I wasn’t sure what kind of hockey it was, or how it was different from juniors. I didn’t go in having any pre-conceived thoughts of what it was going to be like.”
Skinner, who participated in the Manitoba Moose’s training camp last September, landed in Kingston after a disappointing run with Michigan State University. Skinner appeared in just 23 games for the Spartans before deciding to leave the college ranks.
“I just never played at State,” Skinner said. “I just went there and kind of sat on the bench for a year. I just figured I’d explore my other options, so I went and played junior. Especially when you’re young, you just want to play. When you go from playing a lot and being the top player on your team to sitting on the bench, it’s hard to get used to. It’s hard to handle.”
The Newfoundland native has certainly proven in 2007-08 that he can contribute. After doing some research, Church decided to sign the rookie to a contract on Oct. 2. Since then, the Roadrunners’ coach has watch Skinner develop into one of the team’s top performers. The center is currently third on the team in scoring behind Daniel Sisca and Sean O’Connor.
“I didn’t know much about him,” Church admitted. “I did a lot of background check on him. A lot of people said good things about him. He’s a quiet kid, a team-first kind of guy. He has a lot of skill, and I felt that he could be a good fit for our team. He’s gotten better from the start of the season until now. I just hope he stays on the same path, because by the end of the season going into the playoffs, he’s going to be an important player for our team.”
While the Roadrunners (14-20-6) have been slowed by inconsistency during the first half of the season, they currently possess the eighth and final playoff spot in the National Conference. As the second half of the season gets under way and Skinner continues to mature, he’ll also be relied upon to provide offense leading into the Kelly Cup Playoffs. But first, the rookie would like to see his team string some wins together.
“We’ll play one good game, and then kind of think we’re over the hump, and then we’ll go out and lay an egg,” Skinner said. “It’s almost like we just can’t put two good efforts in a row. We’ve just got to keep it simple and get the puck deep. We’ve got to forecheck rather than make pretty plays. We’ve got to get back to the basics.”
In the meantime, Skinner gets to enjoy a couple days in Stockton. Who knows … maybe a solid performance will lead to a chance to play in the American Hockey League?
“That’s my goal – I think that’s everyone’s goal,” Skinner said. I would love to get a chance to play in the American League.”
Church believes that with the right fit, Skinner could be a very effective player at the AHL level. Like so many other players at the Double-A level, all Skinner needs is a chance – just like the one he was given by Church last October.
“He’s the kind of player that needs to go into the right situation,” said Church, a former first-round pick of the Washington Capitals. “If there’s a team out there that needs to boost their power play, or to boost their offense, I don’t think Peder would disappoint anybody, that’s for sure.”
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.