Off the ice, Joey Hishon isn't going to scare anybody.
But strap a pair of skates on him, and he turns into a whirling dervish that can skate, hit and score with equal aplomb.
At just 5-foot-9 1/4 and 172 pounds, Hishon knows he needs to put the puck in the net to make a living at hockey. He had 37 goals and 81 points in 65 games with the OHL's Owen Sound Attack last season, and this season has 15 goals and 38 points in just 33 games.
But he also plays with a fearlessness that belies his size.
"I think I'm listed as 5-foot-10 in most people's programs (but) that's definitely not something I take as a disadvantage at all," Hishon told NHL.com. "When I'm going into a corner with a guy that's 6-foot-3, I'm definitely not scared. My mindset is not telling me I'm going to lose that battle. I'm going to win that battle going into the corner."
He's done enough in all phases of the game to earn a level of recognition from the scouts judging talent for the 2010 Entry Draft. NHL Central Scouting ranked him No. 46 on its midterm list of North American skaters for the June 25-26 selection process.
"He's a very skilled player," teammate Steven Shipley said. "He's got a great set of hands on him, he's always competing. He may be a little guy but he goes to the big areas of the ice and he comes out with pucks more often than not."
And when he gets those pucks, he knows just what to do with them. Not only is he scoring at better than a point-per-game pace in the OHL, he's proven he can perform at an elite level. At last spring's World Under-18 Championship, he led Canada with 5 goals and 10 points.
"Leading the team in scoring was huge for me," Hishon said. "I didn't expect that going in. I knew I was going to be an offensive guy for Team Canada and I would have to produce points, but to lead this team in scoring. … It was a huge confidence booster, playing so well at that tournament."
Owen Sound coach Mark Reeds said he saw "a very big swagger," when Hishon arrived in training camp this summer.
"He was quite confident coming into the year," Reeds told NHL.com. "That was an unbelievable opportunity for him. There was no doubt in our minds he was capable of contributing in a tournament like that, and he played very, very well. I think he gained confidence from that knowing he could play with the elite players at his level. He came into training camp, he was very comfortable and prepared to start the season. … If you saw him handle the puck in training camp, the way he handled the puck, he could pretty much control the whole play. That swagger carried on into the season."
There have been a few hitches to his season. He missed time in the preseason with a pelvis injury, and then suffered a broken foot Oct. 15 blocking a shot. That night, however, he garnered himself some Bob Baun-like attention, as he finished the game and scored a shorthanded goal late in the second period.
"It happened in the first period, a Thursday night in Niagara," Hishon said. "I finished that game and I didn't play the next night on the Friday in Erie because my foot was too swollen to fit in my skate. The swelling went down on Saturday and I was able to fit my foot in. I played the game into the third period and I couldn't bear the pain anymore, so I stopped playing. We got home and I got it X-rayed and that's when we realized it was broken."
He missed two months to heal, but it's fairly remarkable Hishon was able to play through the pain for nearly two full games.
"In my skate it actually felt a lot better than out of my skate, because my skate was like a little air cast, it kept it very supported," Hishon said. "With my skate on it didn't hurt too much. There was some pain there, but not as much as people would expect."
Playing through that much pain and continuing to produce cemented Hishon as a tough player.
"That speaks a lot about how tough he actually is, his willingness to compete," said Reeds.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org