Greg Nemisz is flying high as a member of the Windsor Spitfires this season.
Following a 5-3 win over the Guelph Storm recently, the Spitfires boasted an impressive 48-6-0-1 record to sit atop the Ontario Hockey League standings and first in the Canadian Hockey League rankings.
“We have a great squad this year,” said Nemisz, who notched a goal and an assist against the Storm to give him 30 goals and 34 assists in 54 games this season. “It started early on and we kept it rolling. Now we’re looking for a really good playoff run.”
After the Calgary Flames selected him in the first round (25th overall) of the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Nemisz returned home to his hometown of Courtice, Ont., to train hard for the upcoming season.
“It starts with fitness,” said the 201-pound right winger, who added a bit more muscle to his 6-food-4 frame. “In the summer, you really buckle down and try to get bigger, faster, stronger every year. I just feel more comfortable out there and a lot faster.”
Flames scout Tom Webster, who lives in Windsor, said Nemisz has taken several “steps in the right direction” in his development as one of Calgary’s top junior prospects.
“He’s using his size quite well when needed,” said Webster of Nemisz, who tallied 34 goals and 33 assists in 68 games for the Spitfires last season. “It’s something that he’s grown into. He’s using it more driving to the net and being a power forward.”
In addition to improving his skating, Nemisz has tried to follow the advice of Webster and other scouts in the Calgary organization by using his size to his advantage.
“I’m a big guy, so they tell me to use my body a little more effectively and impose my big frame on people and hit a little more,” he said. “In the last month, it’s been a bigger part of my game.”
Playing primarily on the second line with Russian centre Andrei Loktionov and winger Justin Shugg, Nemisz has been able to find the back of the net quite consistently this season.
“Loktionov’s such a great puck handler and he’s got great vision,” Nemisz said. “I just try to get open and he’s going to find me. Chuggy sees the ice very well too. All three of us kind of make good plays to each other and are pretty unselfish with the puck.”
Nemisz is just one of many offensive weapons on the Spitfires, who have lofty goals this year under the direction of head coach and former Flames defenceman Bob Boughner.
“We’ve got a lot of depth on this team,” said Nemisz, who scored a goal for Team West during an 11-6 loss to Team East in the Subway OHL All-Star Classic in Windsor on Feb. 4. “We’ve got probably seven or eight guys that would be the top scorer on different teams. Our scoring’s pretty spread out. That’s what makes us so hard to handle offensively.”
While Windsor has had a banner regular season so far, the Spitfires have set their sights on bigger and better things heading into the post-season.
“We’ve been gearing towards the playoffs the whole time,” said Nemisz, who boasts an impressive plus-43 rating. “We’ve got some good leadership here and guys that have been in the playoffs. It’s always a different season in playoffs and we’re not going to read too much into being first in our division or anything like that. We’ll be ready come playoff time.”