August 28, 2009 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Portland Winterhawks
Saturday's preseason game against Seattle will be a Futures Games with many of the teams' 15 and 16-year olds taking part. This week, we're featuring some of the players you might see in that game. Today we take a look at defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who the Winterhawks took with the first overall pick in this year\'s Bantam Draft.
The Derrick Pouliot you meet off the ice is nothing like the Derrick Pouliot you see on the ice. Take his skates off and he\'s a shy, reserved 15 year-old with impeccable manners.
But on the ice that deference disappears. After all, it\'s hard to be polite when you\'re skating past the defense and causing your opponents fits.
A few days into camp, Pouliot is giving fans a glimpse into why Portland took him with the top overall pick in the 2009 Bantam Draft. Sure, it\'s early, but Pouliot is in complete control on the ice. He has preternatural vision, sensing when to feed his teammates and when to carry the puck himself. And he almost always makes the right decision, as evidenced by the 25 goals and 63 points he put up in 26 games last season with Weyburn in the South Saskatchewan Minor Hockey League.
"I like to move the puck up and then jump into the rush, try to create some scoring chances...I\'ve been that way through my whole hockey career so far," said Pouliot.
His offensive prowess helped garner him numerous accolades last season. Just check out the list of awards and honors he took home:
-Tournament MVP and a member of the tournament\'s "All-Star Line" at the Graham Tuer Bantam AA Challenge in Regina, Saskatchewan.
- Selected as the Top Defenseman and a member of the tournament\'s "All-Star Line" at the Hockey Hounds Major Bantam Tournament in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
- Called up by the Moose Jaw Warriors AAA midget team to play in the prestigious Mac\'s Midget Hockey Tournament in Calgary, Alberta, and recorded three goals and two assists for five points in four games.
- Selected to the tournament\'s "All-Star Line" at the GSHL Bantam AA Invitational in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
- Selected as the "Top Defenseman" and a member of the tournament\'s "All-Star Line" at the Western Canadian Bantam Championships in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.
Of course, hockey is a two-way game, and Pouliot is the first to admit he still has work to do in his own end.
"I still have to play defense too...I\'m trying to work on that a little bit more, my positioning and things like that. It\'s a work in progress," he said.
It\'s a sentiment echoed by Pouliot\'s father, Lionel. "The offensive stuff is there, which is great, but the defensive side is something that can be taught, and he can learn, he\'s capable of learning. That\'ll come," said Lionel Pouliot.
This season Pouliot will do that with the Moose Jaw Warriors, the AAA midget team he had a cameo appearance with last season.
"Where he\'s going to play this year in Moose Jaw, that coach there is a very defensive-minded coach, so I\'m looking forward to him getting the chance to learn that stuff," said Lionel.
The decisiveness he shows on the ice extends away from the rink too. After Portland took Pouliot first overall, there was no question in his mind about signing with the team.
"I heard really good things about the ownership change and the coaching change and it was easy for us," he said.
"He wanted to come play in the WHL," added Lionel Pouliot. "I think that\'s every kid\'s dream when you play hockey in Saskatchewan and the western provinces. That\'s what he wanted to do right from the start. We asked him and he didn\'t even want to explore the other options."