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Saad using World Junior cut as motivational tool

by Staff Writer / Chicago Blackhawks
Brandon Saad has made a big impact at the rookie tournament so far (Photo by CHL Images).

OSHAWA, Ont. -- Like all of the players coming into the Oshawa rookie tournament, Chicago's Brandon Saad just wanted to be noticed.

With 5 points in two games, he has been achieving that goal.

"I wanted to make a good impression like everyone else," Saad said. "I didn't expect to do poorly, but I guess I've been clicking more with my linemates (Jimmy Hayes and Phillip Danault) more than I expected."

Rockford IceHogs Head Coach Ted Dent, who is coaching the Blackhawks prospects here, agrees.

"I'm really happy with how quickly they have jelled," Dent said. "They have great chemistry."

Pegged as a top-six power forward, every day is a new experience for the young Pennsylvania native, who was taken by the Blackhawks in the second round (No. 43) of the 2011 Entry Draft. One of his biggest lessons came when he was left off the U.S. 2011 World Junior Championship team. The 18-year-old was one of the final cuts before the roster was announced.

"It obviously disappointed me a lot," Saad said. "To not make that team and then watching them play throughout the series, it was hard, but I learned from it. It reminded me how much I have to keep working to get better every day."

As Saad continues to educate himself, others are also learning about him and his capabilities.

"I didn't know much about Brandon coming into the tournament this weekend, but I've been very impressed," Dent said. "He puts the puck hard to the net; he has good hockey sense, as well. He's been very good the past few games. I know a situation like missing out on the World Junior Championship would be a huge disappointment, but this is another chance for him to make an impression on those who see him. I think he'll continue to take advantage of that fact.

"He's showing us he's on the right path. He's going to go back and play junior hockey this year, and that will help teach him all the little things about becoming a pro.  All the little details matter and we've really been trying to stress that to Brandon and the rest of the guys the past two days."

This is something Saad has been quick to realize, as well. "I want to learn from the older guys here, and the coaches," he said. "I need to get as much experience as I can; they have a lot of knowledge to teach me."

Saad is expected to return to the Ontario Hockey League for a second season with the Saginaw Spirit once training camp with the Blackhawks has concluded. If he continues his progression, it would not be a shock to see him take the next step by clinching a spot on the 2012 U.S. WJC team.

In the meantime, the young forward has one more game in Oshawa, on Tuesday. He plans on using his final time on the tournament ice to his full advantage.

"I think I've been playing well," Saad said. "But the best thing for me right now is to finish strong."

Author: Erin Nicks | Correspondent

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