by Lisa McRitchie on 02/08/13 at 11:00 PM ET
While the NHL season is just starting up, the WHL is quickly winding down. And with that, the pressure on young draft eligible players increases. For Vancouver Giant Jackson Houck, this season had its own challenges playing for a team that has struggled more than usual, but to add to that graduating high school and trying to wow the scouts seems a little much.
Somehow, Houck like all other players in his same position are using the challenge to push them further. Will it be enough is yet to be seen.
Currently the Vancouver Giants are firmly situated in last place with 26 points through 53 games played. There will be no recovery in this season that ends mid March. There isn’t an easy way to explain that type of season except to say that the team has its struggles and holes in every position, with only a couple of exceptions.
The shining stars on this year’s Giants team have to be Mason Geersten (traded from the Edmonton Oil Kings for David Musil and a 4th round pick in the 2013 WHL draft) and Jackson Houck. Houck currently leads his team in scoring with 17 goals and 45 points and of course wears an 'A' proudly on his chest.
“Definitely it’s my time to shine right now,” Houck explained after his team’s January 6th visit to the Calgary Saddledome. “Obviously our team isn’t doing so well. We’re playing with some high end guys that maybe they’re getting looked at more, but what it comes down to is what my game brings and what the scouts look at.”
Houck lays a hit that makes even his teammates cringe in Calgary
And what the scouts are going to see in Houck’s game is a powerful checker who makes smart passes. But Houck doesn’t like to describe himself as a one dimensional player and instead like so many prospects feels that there is lots of room for learning and developing; “I think physically I can be a presence. I can be a checker, I can chip in as well. Whatever role they want me to play, I’m happy to play.”
And of course it’s not just his on ice skills that Houck will bring to the ice, he will also bring “A good work ethic, a positive work attitude and just physically check as well, just a big energy guy. Anything they want me to do, I can do it.”
Houck certainly has a good work ethic when it comes to training. Even during the regular season the young right winger is training with power skating coach Karen Kos, noting that “Every time I skate with her I feel quicker so it helps a lot.” Houck isn’t the only one to notice his skating improve throughout the season, but between his team’s struggles and the fierce competition with the other prospects who are also preparing for this year’s draft, central scouting’s January rankings had Houck at 112th.
But the placement doesn’t faze Houck “I try not to worry about it (the draft); I try to just focus on my season right now. When the season’s over I’ll be happy to look forward to it.”
While Houck is trying to work on hid game and help his team, he is also finishing his high school diploma taking English and Law classes. No, law will not be a fallback career, but looking at his father Paul Houck’s career you can’t help but wonder.
Paul Houck played hockey at the University of Wisconsin before going on to play 137 AHL and 16 NHL games as well as a couple of international seasons. But Jackson Houck insists that any interest he has in law classes are to help him prepare for his own contract negotiations. Given the recent NHL CBA issues, you can’t help but think that this is a shrewd young man.
Houck will definitely see another year in the WHL, but given the right time and circumstances, he could have a career resembling, or better than his father. And sometimes a little sense of competition is all you need to advance yourself, especially when that competition comes from within your immediate family.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
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