Alex Killorn took the puck wide down the right wing, around a defenseman, then straight to the net to flip it up off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net.
It was just a glimpse of the teenager’s talent, shown to more than 4,000 Lightning fans at the prospects game during Young Guns Camp last month.
Killorn, who turns 20 on September 14, added an empty-net goal late in the scrimmage and the third-round pick in 2007 displayed his versatility throughout the week.
“He just plays the game with his head up,” Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton said. “He fits what I talk about, guys that are willing to go into the traffic areas to make plays. That’s one thing we want to change and upgrade on our existing team.”
Killorn, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, plays both wing and center. He has good speed, a big shot and has shown the ability to be both a playmaker and a scorer.
His week in Tampa was spent soaking up everything he could.
“I learned a lot from the coaching staff,” Killorn said. “There weren’t a lot of players on the ice at once, so you got a lot of individual advice. It was a great opportunity to be out there.”
Now Killorn will continue his development playing as a sophomore at Harvard with coach Ted Donato.
Killorn put up six goals and eight assists, tying for the team lead with five power-play goals for the ECAC’s top power-play unit. In 30 games, Killorn registered 93 shots, primarily playing left wing for the Crimson.
“Alex improved throughout the year,” said Donato, who played 796 NHL games with eight teams. “The kid arrived with a ton of talent and a good work ethic and made great strides.”
Donato said Killorn needs to continue to get better away from the puck, using his teammates’ strengths, but his understanding of the game has increased.
“It is definitely a jump from high school hockey,” Killorn said. “It took a while to get used to the speed, but I was happy with my game and I got a lot of ice time.
“It was a good learning year. We didn’t do that well, but we all know what we have to do for next year. We have added a lot of good players.”
Harvard finished the regular season 4-0-2, before losing two close games in the ECAC tournament. The recruits include Louis Leblanc, a first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in June.
“I’ve known him my whole life,” Killorn said.
Killorn was the Hockey Commissioner’s Association rookie of the month in February and was ECAC rookie of the week in November. His power-play goal gave the Crimson a 2-0 lead over eventual NCAA champ BU in the prestigious Beanpot tournament, before losing 4-3.
“He’s put himself in the position to have a breakout type of season,” Donato said.
The road to Harvard seemed natural.
Killorn was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but his family moved to Beaconsfield -- just outside Montreal -- when he was about a year old. He starred for the Lac St. Louis Lions of the Quebec Midget AAA league.
When he was young, Killorn remembers getting a stick signed by Montreal icon Vincent Lecavalier
and used it for long time. Later, they had the same trainer, so Killorn often had a chance to see the Lightning all-star center at the gym.
“It was always something to strive for when you saw him coming in,” Killorn said. “You could see his work ethic.”
Killorn played for Team Quebec at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2006 and decided to take his skills to prep school at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts where he excelled in two sports.
In 2006-07, Killorn had 18 goals and 32 points in 26 games and followed that up with 28 goals and 55 points in 2007-08 playing in the Housatonic League, which annually produces NHL draft picks. He also contributed to the undefeated Deerfield golf team.
Killorn had thought about going to college for years, turning down a chance to play to play with Shawinigan of the Quebec Junior League. He was friends with the Biega brothers (Alex, Michael and Danny) from the Montreal area, who played for Salisbury in the same prep league and have all ended up at Harvard.
He wouldn’t change anything. Killorn said he has learned a lot from the experience of Donato.
“He’s been a tremendous help, especially on the power play,” Killorn said. “He can give you little things, fakes and moves that other coaches might not know.”
Donato said Killorn has shown to be a hard worker, a good teammate and has done the work off the ice to be much closer to NHL-ready physically.
“He’s got a very bright future because he has committed himself to being a professional hockey player,” Donato said.
NHL teams own the rights to players that are in college until they finish their eligibility. Recently, Matt Smaby played three years at North Dakota and Mike Lundin four at Maine before signing with the Lightning.
The Lightning also have sophomore Matt Marshall
(Vermont) and freshman Luke Witkowski
(Western Michigan) in the pipeline.
“We’re not going to be an organization that pushes guys out of school,” Lawton said. “When they are ready, they’ll let us know.”
Killorn is showing signs it might be sooner rather than later.