It was one of those things where I was seven years old. Coach wants everyone to put on the gear and everyone is excited for it. I went in and it went pretty good so I just stuck with it from there. It was one of those classic stories. - Brent Moran
CALGARY, AB -- Listening to Brent Moran tell the story, it’s a classic case of a kid strapping on the pads and afterwards, refusing to take them off.
But it’s one that has served the Niagara IceDogs draft eligible goaltender well.
“It was one of those things where I was seven years old,” Moran said. “Coach wants everyone to put on the gear and everyone is excited for it. I went in and it went pretty good so I just stuck with it from there. It was one of those classic stories.
“Everyone grows up with road hockey gear and wanting to put on the real stuff. I guess I did. That was the starting point of it.”
Some 11 years later, Moran has transformed that starting point into an impressive resume heading into the 2014 NHL Draft.
The 17-year-old has competed twice internationally, representing Team Ontario in the World Under-17 Challenge last year and Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April.
He also nearly helped a young Niagara squad architect a first round upset of the North Bay Battalion, recording a 2.86 goals against average and a .921 save percentage in the seven-game series.
It’s those examples that have re-enforced his Central Scouting ranking heading into the draft in Philadelphia.
“The rankings are the little extra cherry on top of the ice cream, but you’ve got to take them with a grain of salt,” said Moran, the draft’s 3rd ranked North American netminder. “You’ve had to play your game all season and not pay too much attention to it and stay on an even keel for sure. That’s a huge part.
“I don’t know how other people perceive me. I just try to go out there and get the job done as best I can. That’s my job. I’ll let the other stuff take care of itself.
“It’s something you’ve got to respect. You don’t want to settle for anything even if you’re at the top. You’ve got to strive to be better. That’s something you’ve got to keep working for and never be satisfied.”
It’s what worked for the 6-foot-3, 186-pound puck stopper in the latter half of the season.
After earning just 24 appearances through January, Moran played 16 of Niagara’s final 18 games, including all eight in March. His heroics were halted in North Bay, allowing Moran to represent Canada at the Under-18’s in Belarus.
And although he didn’t see game action, it didn’t take away from the experience for the Orleans, ON native.
“It’s a great experience any time you get to put on the Maple Leaf,” Moran said. “I went there and tried to be the best teammate I could, worked hard in practice and if I was called on to play, I’d be ready. I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to hopefully put that jersey on again.”
It was at the Under-18’s that fellow draft eligible goaltender Mason McDonald got his first look at Moran.
“He’s a great guy,” said McDonald, who ranked 2nd among North American goaltenders. “Although he didn’t dress, he was still a great team player. He really supported the guys.
“He works really hard. He’s a big guy like me. He plays a similar style to me. I’m not really a goalie coach so I can’t really focus on his style.
“But he’s a great guy.”
And one who was meant to stop pucks.