Prep Watch is a new weekly feature on THN.com that focuses on minor hockey prospects destined to become big names in major junior or the NCAA – and hopefully one day, the NHL.
There are certain fringe benefits to being a young hockey player in Kingston, Ont. For one, if you play your cards right you might get a shout-out from Don Cherry as your career progresses.
Another, one becoming very apparent to highly acclaimed defensive prospect Scott Harrington, is there always seems to be NHL blueliners around in the summer to train with.
A few months ago, Harrington got the opportunity to skate with Florida’s Bryan Allen, Washington’s John Erskine, Vancouver’s Rob Davison and St. Louis’ Jay McClement.
“They gave me drills and tips and taught me what skills you need at the next level,” Harrington said. “Like skating backwards laterally and never forcing the pass out of your zone.”
Obviously the pointers helped, as Harrington not only had 12 goals and 24 points through his first 16 games with the Greater Kingston Jr. Frontenacs, but was actually called up to the local Jr. A Voyageurs for some exhibition games before that.
“He would have made our Jr. A team as the No. 2 or No. 3 defenseman, but because of his age, he couldn’t play,” said Jr. Frontenacs coach Denis Duchesne. “He’s just that much better.”
Ironically, the 15-year-old’s high skill level, not to mention the perpetual ineptitude of the Ontario League’s Kingston Frontenacs, means he could be selected by his home team at this year’s Ontario League draft.
“That would be nice,” Harrington said. “They’ve got a brand new rink and a lot of good, young players.”
But the last-place Fronts clearly need more help and the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Harrington would be a welcome addition.
“You want offense, you want defense, he’s an all-round player,” Duchesne said. “Physically, he’s just a step above everybody. His skating stride is so smooth and strong.”
The coach recalled a recent game against the highly rated Quinte Hawks, where Harrington plunged the dagger with what turned out to be the winning goal.
“We were pinned in our zone and he grabbed the puck and went end-to-end for a highlight-reel goal,” Duchesne said. “That’s what he does.”
The coach also estimated the young blueliner probably logs about 35 minutes of ice time out of the 45 minutes the Jr. Frontenacs play each game. Despite all the accolades, Harrington knows he’s not perfect and cites trying to do too much as something he is working on.
“Sometimes when the game is close I get out of position trying to win the game,” he said. “I need to stay back and play good ‘D.’ ”
In the meantime, Harrington will continue to hone his game in minor midget and keep soaking up every lesson he can, from both Duchesne and other junior coaches who have become involved in the young blueliner’s development. It’s all part of a growth plan to keep Harrington and his advanced game busy before he goes on to either the OHL next season or the NCAA down the road, a decision Harrington will surely discuss with his advisors, who also offer an added benefit – Bobby Orr.
The game’s greatest defenseman, who is now a certified NHL agent, has even spent time with the kid who wears No. 4 on the ice.
“It was an unbelievable experience – he’s the best player of all-time,” Harrington said of meeting Orr. “He’s an extremely humble person and very down to earth.”
And while Harrington said he learned the importance of keeping a level head from Orr, it goes without saying the youngster has the skills to feel pretty good about himself these days.
Prep Watch, which features minor hockey players destined to become big names in major junior or the NCAA, appears every Thursday, only on thehockeynews.com.
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