MONTREAL - Rhett Pitlick has a number of resources at his disposal that can help him evolve as a player.
Shortly after being selected in the fifth round - 131st overall - this past June, Pitlick participated in his first development camp at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.
It also marked Pitlick's first visit to Montreal.
"It was a very nice experience. I loved the city," said Pitlick, who hails from Chaska, MN. "I learned a lot of things I can apply in my practices ahead of next season."
Among all the on-ice sessions the 18-year-old forward took part in with fellow prospects on the South Shore, he particularly enjoyed the ones led by Laval Rocket head coach, Joel Bouchard.
"I thought the practices we did during the week were really interesting. We did a lot of drills that focused on keeping our heads up with the puck. The most important thing is to work hard during practice," mentioned Pitlick. "I think I'm heading in the right direction. I just have to continue moving my feet and use my hands and my shot."
In order to further his development, Pitlick returned to Montreal just 10 days after development camp was done. He was back at the Bell Sports Complex to hone his game under the tutelage of John Paris Jr. and Scott Brokaw.
Brokaw is known for creating a program - Brokaw Hockey - that focuses on helping youngsters like Pitlick improve their mental performance.
"It was primarily to work on my hockey IQ and my vision. We also did a lot of psychology," explained Pitlick. "It was very interesting."
A family affair
Hockey is a very popular sport in the Pitlick household. First off, Rhett's father, Lance, is a former NHLer boasting 393 games of experience.
These days, Lance remains wholeheartedly involved with the game through his company, Online Hockey Training, which specializes in sharpening puck handling skills. He created a website allowing young players to access programs focused on improving that all-important ability.
It goes without saying that Rhett was among his first clients.
"I'm very lucky to benefit from that tool. I always have a puck handling program at my fingertips," said the Canadiens hopeful. "We also have a whole room in the basement. It's good because I can always work on that part of my game at home."
Pitlick's older brother, Rem, meanwhile, was a third-round pick of the Nashville Predators - selected 76th overall - in 2016. He made his NHL debut on March 25. And it just so happened that the matchup was against the Wild in Minnesota.
Rhett wouldn't have missed that game for the world.
"My brother took me under his wing. He helped me with a lot of things. I'm so happy to have him in my life," affirmed Rhett. "We always train together. I'm super thankful for everything he's done for me."
Next season, Rhett will join the USHL's Omaha Lancers. The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder is hoping to make the most of his summer to add some muscle to his frame.
"I'd say I'm still growing. I have to get bigger and stronger. At the same time, I have to improve the other aspects of my game," insisted Pitlick. "But, the most important thing ahead of next year is to increase muscle mass."
Good on the ice, good on the water
Pitlick is regarded as an excellent skater. He proved that in Brossard late last month. But, few people know that he's equally skilled on the water.
Pitlick has actually been wakesurfing since childhood.
The Pitlicks own a cabin in Wisconsin. In addition to competing on the ice, Rhett and Rem also have their fair share of board battles.
"It's like a competition between my brother and I," explained Rhett. "We always challenge each other to have the coolest jump."
Right now, Rhett believes he's leading the way.
"I'd say I won. It's probably because he's a little beefier than me," said Rhett with a laugh.
To learn more about Brokaw Hockey, click here.
To learn more about Online Hockey Training, click here.