Abbotsford, BC – Entering their second season in Abbotsford, much of the talk surrounding the Heat was how young they’d be this season. As the first half comes to a close, it’s Greg Nemisz who has led the charge for the Calgary Flames affiliate.
Nemo, as he’s been known since his minor hockey days in Courtice, Ontario, leads all Heat rookies with nine goals and 17 points.
Nemisz’s strong first-half also has him in second spot in the AHL among rookies with two short-handed goals and four short-handed points.
“We’ve had a lot injuries so I’ve had a chance to play and I’ve just been pretty fortunate the coaches trust me in all situations out there,” said the 20-year-old. “I had a pretty good first half of the year just looking to continue it on in the second half of the season here.”
A total of nine rookies have suited up for the Heat at some point this season, but according to head coach Jim Playfair, Nemisz has been a cut above.
“I think he’s stood out based on the fact that he’s been able to play all three positions,” Playfair explained. “He’s played regularly and he’s probably been our highest rated forward consistently throughout the whole first half of the season.”
The 6-foot-3 centre was a first-round selection by the Flames in 2008 (25th overall), in his following two seasons Nemisz racked up an impressive 147 points in 116 regular season games with Windsor in the OHL.
He added 10 goals and 32 points in 35 playoff games during the two seasons helping the Spitfires capture back-to-back Memorial Cups.
In Playfair’s mind it’s that winning experience at the CHL level that has helped Nemisz successfully make the jump to the AHL.
“To me the biggest thing is he’s won back-to-back championships in the Ontario Hockey League, he’s got a good feel for what it takes to win,” said Playfair. “He’s come in here and certainly become an important player for us. He can play five-on-five minutes very well, he’s become a very good penalty killer and he’s very affective on the power play.”
Off the ice Nemisz is still adjusting to life without billets and all the luxuries, which come with playing major junior hockey.
“I’ve been living with Bryan Cameron, T.J. Brodie and John Negrin - they’re pretty good roommates so its’ been a lot of fun,” said Nemisz. “Definitely making your food all the time [is the biggest difference], we kind of take the option on that – most nights and just go out to eat, but I’d say making your food and cleaning up after yourself have been the biggest adjustments.”
As the second half of the season approaches, the Flames prospect will have to continue to work on his consistency to get to the next level.
“I think the biggest thing for Nemo is just to continually push himself to be a consistent player,” said Playfair. “I think when you’re a young player, the biggest thing you try to find in your game is to be consistent.
“I think that’s probably the most important thing Nemo’s done in the first half – he’s been a real consistent player.”
By Dhiren Mahiban