Friday, November 27, 2009

Nipawin Hawks' Thiessen searching for scholarship

(from today's Star Phoenix)

Taylor Thiessen has played in as many Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Showcase tournaments as anybody else, but he is still looking for something to show for it.

The veteran Nipawin Hawks defenceman wants an NCAA scholarship.

"It's obviously everybody's main goal here," Thiessen said Thursday following a 5-2 loss to the Melfort Mustangs. "They're here to showcase their talent. To get four points in the two games we're playing is the main team goal, but, personally-wise, yes, that's obviously the key here.

"I talked to quite a few (NCAA schools) here and there. They've shown some interest. The offers are still wide open. I'm still keeping the door open for now."

Thiessen, an undersized D-man at 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, has extra-large leadership qualities to go along with 12 goals and 13 assists for 25 points in 27 games.

"He's maybe one of the best captains I've seen in my life and I've been around the game for a long time," said Hawks head coach Colin O'Hara. "He's never above the team. He's a very good go-between for the players and us. He's a fantastic individual.

"He's an ice-time eater out there. He plays in all situations and responds real well to it.

"The one knock we keep hearing on him is he's an average skater, but what he makes up for in lack of skating is his smarts and the fact that he's a coachable kid. His smarts are second to none in this league as a D-man. He's a kid who is very coachable and, if you believe in him, he's going to believe in your program. That makes him a prototypical college player.

"We're hoping to get him something."

Thiessen, 20, from Prince Albert, wants more consistency in his game.

"To keep consistent defensively is a big thing at the college level," he said.

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The SJHL Showcase, back after a one-year hiatus, attracted about 30 scouts Thursday. More are expected to trickle in today and Saturday for the 12-team, 12-game tournament at North Battleford's Civic Centre.

The tournament has attracted plenty of NHL interest.

"The NHL is very supportive of these type of events," said SJHL president Laury Ryan. "Through the CJHL, they are now financially supporting the event. They were probably the most disappointed that it didn't go last year."

In attendance Thursday were NHL Central Scouting Bureau scouts, as well as representatives from the Atlanta Thrashers, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators, just to name a few.

"We've got the five, six guys (on Central Scouting's watch list) and they've come to see them, to see if they belong there or not, and catch a few diamonds in a rough, guys who have gone unnoticed," said Ryan.

"For them, it's a great opportunity. It's one-stop shopping."

On the NHL Central Scouting watch list are Yorkton Terriers forward Clarke Breitkreuz, Melfort Mustangs D-man Lee Christensen, Flin Flon Bombers forward Andrew Johnston and Estevan Bruins forward Dylan Smith.

Notre Dame Hounds forward Trevor Cameron and Kindersley Klippers goalie Josh Thorimbert have also garnered interest.

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Melfort Mustangs D-man Carter Berg heads to Prince Albert tonight to suit up for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen against the P.A. Raiders.

Berg's WHL rights were traded to Calgary a couple of weeks ago.

"I'll give that a chance next year and see how that goes.," said Berg, 17.

In other Showcase action Thursday, the Notre Dame Hounds doubled up on the Weyburn Red Wings 4-2 and the Humboldt Broncos edged the Flin Flon Bombers 2-1. In the late game, the Kindersley Klippers played the Melville Millionaires.

Today's schedule features five games: Notre Dame vs. La Ronge, Flin Flon vs. Nipawin, Yorkton vs. Melville, Estevan vs. Weyburn and Battlefords vs. Humboldt.

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