From the Stands
By Paul Osborne
There are players with greater offensive upside and players with added experience but more and more you are seeing why the Carolina Hurricanes made Brock McGinn a second round draft pick in last year’s NHL selection process.
McGinn, who struggled early in the season while recovering from wrist surgery, has surged forward in recent weeks to 18 goals and 37 points – good for fourth in team scoring behind Tanner Richard, Scott Kosmachuk and Zack Mitchell. McGinn is a terrific skater who plays the game hard in both directions. He comes from a solid hockey pedigree with both older brothers playing in the pros, but it is his team first attitude and willingness to pay the price in the dirty areas of the ice that has seen his value skyrocket.
“At the beginning of the year I thought he was playing good but he wasn’t scoring” said head coach Scott Walker. “But he plays the game the right way. He is a warrior out there.”
He doesn’t often wow you with great offensive moves (although one of his two goals in Friday’s win over Owen Sound Friday will be up for Goal of the Year honours on the Storm website for sure), but his opponents know when he is on the ice. If they don’t have their collective heads up he is liable to check them four rows deep into the seats. He hits like a Mack truck and because of that aggressive behaviour he walks that narrow line between good clean aggression and hits that are sometimes dangerous. But it is that belligerent style that may make him one of the most NHL ready players at the tender age of 18.
“I can tell you right now that he could play in the National Hockey League today” said Walker. “Now he wouldn’t be an offensive dynamo but he could play a fourth line role and play his few minutes because he plays the right way. He’d block shots and get the puck out at the blue line. He skates so well and plays hard that he would fit on a fourth line now but if (Carolina) continues to groom him (by leaving him in junior) he can be an even bigger impact player.”
High praise indeed from Walker who played many years in the NHL.
The coach concedes that McGinn still needs to grow physically this year and next to be able to handle the rigours of a full NHL schedule, but his point in well taken. If Carolina needed him on an emergency basis, he would do just fine.
“I’ve just been sticking with it in practice every day” said McGinn acknowledging his slow start to the season. “Everyday I’ve been shooting pucks and now it’s starting to come around. I try to be a hard worker, in there battling, and I definitely enjoy (the type of games we had this weekend).”
McGinn is quickly becoming a fan favourite and I’m sure he is bringing smiles to the Carolina brass that drafted him so high last year.
From the Land of Oz…..The Storm closed to within three points of third place Owen Sound by beating them 2-1 at home Friday night, then unceremoniously dumping them 5-0 in their building Saturday evening. Sunday they had a chance to move to within a point of the Attack and leapfrog Kitchener but they lost to the Rangers 3-2 in a game Walker felt was poorly officiated. He was especially upset with, what he felt, were mistakes made by some of the off-ice crew in the penalty box. Walker claimed that one timing error forced his tired team to kill an extra 15 seconds of a Kitchener powerplay…The Storm’s loss to the Rangers ended a 7 game winning streak….Tanner Richard scored one of the Storm’s goals Sunday on a penalty shot . . . Guelph hosts Windsor Friday at 7:30 p.m.