SHERWOOD PARK, AB
- Growing up in Sherwood Park, Greg Chase feels right at home at Oilers Development Camp.
The homegrown pivot grew up an Oilers fan, skating regularly at Millennium Place while one day dreaming of suiting up in the NHL's version of the Battle of Alberta.
He's been on the opposite side of it for the past three seasons, honing his craft with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.
"It's been an unbelievable couple of days," Chase, who was drafted by the Oilers in the seventh round, 188th overall this past weekend, said after Thursday's practice off Premier Way. "This is a great organization to be in and I'm so happy I got the opportunity to come here. This is honestly a dream come true for me.
"I didn't even watch (the draft) because I was so nervous. I was at my lake and we were all sitting around. When I got the phone call, it was pretty incredible celebrating that proud moment with my whole family."
Chase recorded a career-high 17 goals and 49 points in 69 regular-season games last season. Helping the Hitmen advance to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Edmonton Oil Kings, the speedy centre notched an additional three goals and 10 points.
"It was a great season," Chase said. "I got to play a bigger role with the Hitmen this year and we went pretty far in the playoffs. It's always nice when you can have success and contribute on a team like that. Losing to Edmonton was tough, but overall I think it went very well and I took my game to new heights."
In addition to his steady offensive production, Chase is a bit of an agitator. Back on Oct. 13 after netting the shootout-winning goal at Rexall Place, the 18-year-old infamously blew kisses at the Oil Kings' bench in celebration.
When the two teams met once more in the post-season, Chase was cast as the villain. By series' end, he'd recorded a goal, three points and eight penalty minutes while causing his opponents to lose their temper on more than one occasion.
But that was then and this is now.
The right-handed Hitmen forward is now rubbing elbows with his former enemies, fellow Oilers prospects Mitch Moroz and Travis Ewanyk.
"It's water under the bridge -- we're teammates now," Chase laughed. "I love that role. As a player, you never want the other team to like you. As much as I could get under their skin, play gritty and play aggressive, but still have that offence and skill, that's part of my game and it's what I look to do.
"When it gets to the other team like that, I consider it a success. That's what the Battle of Alberta is all about."
When asked if he relished that role, Chase could only smile.
"Irritating? I think that sums it up," he laughed. "Honestly, it makes me more versatile. If there's one thing I've learned about how to progress and earn a spot in the NHL one day, it's that you have to bring more to the table and be solid in all areas.
"Making that impression all starts here at this camp."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick