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Belleville stint beneficial as Crookshank prepares for first pro season

by Matt Tidcombe @matttidcombe

A 19-game taste with the Belleville Senators sure whet Angus Crookshank's appetite for the pro game.

After signing his entry-level deal with the Ottawa Senators on March 17 and leaving the University of New Hampshire, Crookshank tallied 16 points, including five goals, with Belleville.

"It was really beneficial," Crookshank said of his stint with Belleville. "It was a big jump from college. Guys are bigger, faster, stronger. The pace of play is that much quicker.

"But the guys and the coaching staff and the veterans really helped me along and by the end of it I felt like I was starting to catch on to the speed of things and felt a little more comfortable."

He started his pro career with a six-game point streak that tied Belleville's franchise record for most consecutive games with an assist. He scored his first pro goal in his third game and in 19 games, tallied 49 shots for a 10.2 shooting percentage. Simply put, he made an immediate impact and was a big reason why the Senators finished the season 11-4-0 that included an eight-game winning streak.

And he gives Belleville head coach Troy Mann a ton of credit for his adaption to the professional game.

"He's hard on you but in the right ways," Crookshank said. "He expects a lot out of you, but you want to run through a wall for the guy.

"He's awesome to play for and I have nothing but great things to say about him."

With his first full pro season on the horizon - he's getting a slight head start as one of 24 players at the Sens' development camp currently being held at Canadian Tire Centre - Crookshank acknowledges he needs to improve his skating. He worked on his all-round game over the summer back home in Vancouver, but paid particular attention to his footwork, especially after end of season feedback from Belleville's staff.

But while the door has closed on his collegiate career and the focus is squarely on his pro career now, he allowed himself a moment of reflection on a productive NCAA career where the 21-year-old notched 63 points (35 goals) in 90 games.

"I can't really describe how hard it was [to leave]," the 2018 fifth-round pick said. "I get goosebumps thinking about my class right now. The bond that you develop with those guys is really second to none.

"To be able to represent your school, I was very fortunate to be able to do that and I loved my time there."

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