by Lisa McRitchie on 10/12/11 at 04:00 PM ET
The Edmonton area has produced its share of excellent hockey players, and that trend doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. The Team Canada world junior development camp was held in Edmonton this summer and featured five players native to the city and if you look at any league, you will find several players from Alberta’s capital and many more looking to advance their hockey careers.
Brandon Hurley is one of those players looking to advance their hockey careers. Hailing from Fort Saskatchewan, Hurley played through various Edmonton area hockey programs before being drafted by the Kootenay Ice in the first round of the WHL entry draft. Touted as a sniper, the Ice were surprised when Hurley was available at the 15th position and quickly snapped him up. Brandon Hurley was considered a power forward who consistently found the back of the net scoring 51 goals in 33 games with 141 penalty minutes his last year of bantam.
Hurley has had more fights than goals since joining the WHL however and going into his draft year, it will be interesting to see what that does for his rankings. In his first 8 games in the WHL in his draft year, Hurley got his first fight and served several penalty minutes, but points eluded the young left winger.
In his first full season, Hurley played 59 games scoring two goals with three assists and 89 penalty minutes. Several of those penalty minutes came from his nine fights on the season.
Hurley’s second season was 57 games long with five goals, five assists and 114 penalty minutes and fourteen fights.
Looking at those numbers and watching Hurley play, you get a sense of Hurley’s fierceness and the level of compete that Hurley brings to every shift. Although those around the league continue to argue the value of fighting in the game, there is no doubt that teams are always looking to achieve or maintain a certain level of toughness. This could be the key to Hurley taking his career to the next level.
When Hurley scores, it can be a highlight reel goal because Hurley is still a talented hockey player first and foremost.
Unfortunately for Hurley, this past week has not been ideal. After scoring a nifty a goal over the outstretched leg of Calgary Hitmen netminder Brandon Glover in the Saddledome, the Ice continued on their road trip, stopping in Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings. In this game, Hurley suffered a knee injury after a knee on knee collisions caused by Griffin Reinhart. Hurley may be out a month due to his injury.
“I like it there and there are a lot of good players that came out of Edmonton in my Bantam year and what not. It was quite competitive playing minor hockey there.” Hurley says of his hometown, reaffirming my belief that despite tough economic times through the past few years in Alberta, hockey continues to thrive in Edmonton.
If you look for Brendan Hurley on Twitter, you will find him and as @Hurls2point5, clearly he has a sense of humour . “We started getting on the twitter bandwagon last year and the year before. I kind of went with it. We try to keep everything relevant and not say too much to the public eye about stuff, but we kind of like to have fun with our tweets.”
When asked to describe himself as a player, something that I’m sure all players dread the way you dread the question to describe your biggest weakness in job interviews, Hurley responds “I’d say I’m a gritty two-way forward that brings physical presence and can put the greasy goals in when needed in front of the net. Just go out and do what the coach expects me to do.”
This year is the last year before Hurley becomes draft eligible, but it doesn’t change the way he will approach this season. “No, just go out and play tough, and play my style of hockey and go from there. “ And should Hurley be selected, he is certainly not hoping any particular team will call his name. “An NHL team is an NHL team and where ever you end up; I would be honoured and privileged to work for them.”
The Ice took the Ed Chynoweth Cup last season, and some players moved from the WHL, but the Ice hope to achieve the same results this year. “Well we looked at our roster last year, we looked through and we didn’t have many faces that were well known. We’re just a bunch of players, like last year that play their roles and fought for everyone in the room. Everybody stuck up for each other and they played as a team. If any given night we do like we did last year, with the team that we had, and just played our hardest I think that we can do it again.
“We’re quite tight as a team, so I think with guys mingling; older guys with younger guys, and getting tighter as a bond group that it will reflect on the ice because everyone of us will stand up for each other in there. I think that that’s just the mentality of a winning team.“
Standing at 6 feet and 188 pounds, Hurley has good size for the role that he plays. The biggest surprise in speaking with Hurley was how shy he seemed at times. I tried to keep in mind that I had just spoken with the Reinhart brothers, Max and Sam who are the focus of a lot of media attention as well as Drew Czerwonka, a player I have spoken with a few times now. Hurley still exudes confidence, still speaks with a strong clear voice but maybe felt his teams’ lost a little more than other players, despite earning his first goal of the season.
There are no guarantees in life, and there are far more players hoping to be drafted than spots available, but there is still a chance for many deserving players and even after the entry draft there is a chance that undrafted players can still find their way to the NHL. However, if Hurley has caught the eye of the right scouts, there is telling what may happen next summer.
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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.
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