– He wasn’t the biggest player on the ice Thursday morning, but Ben Marshall didn’t feel out of place, either, on the first day of the Red Wings’ development camp at Joe Louis Arena.
“It was a little different to play with some college boys out there today, that’s the first time I’ve done that,” said the 17-year-old defenseman, who recently finished his junior year in high school. “I’m the smallest guy on the ice, and I always like that. It’s a faster pace, and I like that too.”
Marshall, the Wings’ seventh round draft pick last month, shows his age in the size department. The St. Paul, Minn., native is listed at 5-foot-9 and 160-pounds. And both could be considered generous measurements.
However, the Wings plan to give Marshall all the time he needs to grow as he progresses in his hockey development. He expects to add at least a few inches and more weight to his frame over the next few years.
Marshall, who will turn 18 next month, will play the 2010-11 season in Omaha, Neb., with the Lancers of the USHL, before moving back closer to home at the University of Minnesota.
When he was asked what his favorite sports team was growing up, Marshall responded quickly.
“It’s a dream for anyone growing up in Minnesota to play for the Gophers,” he said. “If you play hockey in Minnesota, you play for the Gophers, that’s what everybody wants to do. I’m just glad I’m able to do it.”
Marshall posted 18 goals, 30 assists, and 40 penalty minutes last season at Mahtomedi High School. He said that playing high school hockey in Minnesota – as did NHL players T.J. Oshie of St. Louis and Blake Wheeler of Boston – was a tremendous experience.
“I would say it’s the best high school hockey in the nation over anyone else,” Marshall said. “It’s real competitive, and especially if you make it to the state tournament. This year our semifinal game had 11,000 people, and I play Single-A hockey. Double-A games, they had about 18,000 fans a game. It’s something special … everybody loves it.”
Yet playing at his high school did not give Marshall the exposure to scouts that players in other leagues receive.
“I talked to a couple teams, kind of felt like if I was going to get drafted I was going to go late,” Marshall said. “I was most comfortable with Detroit. I had a meeting with Detroit, (Dave Kolb, amateur scout) came over to my house, we had a talk, and he liked what I had to say. So I felt like I was most comfortable with Detroit.”
When his name was called, however, it still came as a surprise. Marshall said he has his draft-day jersey hanging in his bedroom to remind him of his achievement.
“It was unreal,” he said of draft day. “I was literally speechless. I didn’t really expect to get drafted, but it happened, and I just want to take advantage of this. It was an unreal experience.”