|Luke Schenn will face heavy expectations before he cracks the lineup for the Maple Leafs after being taken fifth in the 2008 Entry Draft. |
will face heavy expectations before he cracks the lineup for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite having the glamour of being taken fifth in the 2008 Entry Draft, Schenn prefers substance in his game. His stats won't jump out at a hockey fan – he had 28 points in 57 games last season with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.
"I think my style as a hockey player is I just keep things simple out there and try to play a sound defensive game and be physical when I get the opportunity to," Schenn said. "And just move the puck to the forwards and play a steady game out there."
Schenn's rock-solid play with the Rockets has earned him a spot as an international mainstay on Canadian all-star teams. He played for Canada in the Super Series that pitted Russia and Canada's best junior-level players against each other, and also played on the 2008 World Junior Championship team, which won its fourth consecutive gold medal. Schenn, a Saskatoon native, is honored to represent his country internationally.
"I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to play for Team Canada and represent my country," Schenn said. "It's a great feeling. To get into the Super Series against the Russians was really cool, to get to know some of the guys and get that experience. Then leading up to the World Juniors and making that team, it's pretty cool. You get to meet so many good people over there and you get to play for your country. But to win a gold medal, there is no greater feeling like it that I've experienced. It's a great feeling and I'm very proud that I've had the experience and to be part of it."
Canada easily defeated Russia in the Super Series by winning seven of the eight games and tying Game 7, but the World Junior Championship was far more dramatic and it took an overtime goal in the championship game against Sweden for Canada to emerge victorious. Schenn recalls late in the game that Team Canada wasn't at its best, but Matt Halischuk's game-winning goal was an unforgettable moment in his career.
"We had a tough third period there," Schenn said. "We kind of gave up the lead. Then in the intermission we regrouped and I was actually on the ice when we scored, so I was one of the first guys in the celebration.
"I couldn't believe it actually went in. Next thing you know I looked back at the bench and everyone's throwing off their gloves and coming towards you. It was unbelievable to be part of it and be on the ice for it."
Schenn had some familiar competition in the WHL last season as his brother, Braydon, was a rookie with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Braydon, who led WHL rookies with 71 points, is a likely first-round pick for the 2009 draft.
"We play different positions, he's a forward and more of a goal scorer," Luke said. "So he's leading the way for points and stuff. But it's cool. We're really close. I always keep in touch with him and like to know what's going on with him and Brandon (another younger brother). He always gives me calls to see what's going on in Kelowna. So we're really tight. We like to keep in touch. We don't get to play each other a ton, but it's cool when we get to play each other."
Schenn is excited to get his first crack at the NHL; he steadily realized he has the tools to make it there as his career progressed.
"You grow up playing hockey and you keep on getting more opportunities as you go," Schenn said. "You get drafted into the WHL. I've been fortunate enough to play with the Kelowna Rockets and had great opportunities there. It's been great so far there. After my 16-year-old year I got used to the league. And I realized who the top-end players are, and I realized maybe I'm not so far away. And you strive to get better toward where they are. You take in what they do to get better as a player, and you just kind of learn from them, and hopefully work hard and one day get there yourself."
Author: Adam Schwartz | NHL.com Staff Writer