Seventeen-year-old rookie centre Tim McGauley wheels up the ice with the puck during Brandon Wheat Kings practice at Westman Place on Wednesday afternoon. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Not many Western Hockey League rookies can claim the kind of experience that Tim McGauley possesses.
As the 17-year-old centre from Wilcox, Sask., tries to earn a spot on the Brandon Wheat Kings roster, he has 20 games of WHL regular-season and playoff experience from which to draw.
Chosen by Saskatoon in the first round of the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft (20th overall) by Saskatoon, McGauley played in five games with the Blades as a 15-year-old before being traded to the Wheat Kings in the 2011 deadline deal that sent Brayden Schenn back to his hometown.
McGauley also joined the Wheat Kings for three separate stints last season, playing 14 more regular-season games and one playoff contest. Allthat time has given McGauley a sense of comfort with the team that he wouldn’t otherwise have.
"I know the guys really well and I’m good friends with all of them (but) I know I’m still a rookie and I’ve got to do my duties," McGauley said, carrying out those rookie requirements by lugging a bucket of pucks off the ice following Wednesday’s practice. "I’m getting a lot better day by day, working harder, just trying to get my time in. Definitely, it’s a lot more comfortable now with a little bit of experience."
Particularly helpful for the 6-foot-0, 177-pound McGauley was his time with the Wheat Kings at the end of last season when he got a sample of the speed of playoff hockey and practised with teammates who had spent the entire season getting their systems down.
The increased level of comfort showed in McGauley’s game during his WHL pre-season debut on Thursday as he was dangerous all night in Brandon’s 5-3 victory over the Regina Pats and scored his first goal in 20 games as a Wheat King. More confident than he’s ever been since joining the Wheat Kings, McGauley’s improved outlook stems not only from his time in the WHL but also from his better fortunes in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League last season.
Two years ago, he was asked to focus on his defence by the Regina Pat Canadians and produced modest totals of 12 goals and 21 points in 38 games. Last season, he joined the Notre Dame Hounds and was turned loose much more often, finishing fourth in the league with 29 goals, and amassing 53 points in 41 games.
"It’s the same with anyone, if you come in here with a lot of points, your confidence level is already up," McGauley said. "Last year when I was coming off my first year of midget, I didn’t get many points so I wasn’t very confident. But now I put up a season with a lot of points and the confidence is there."
ONE-TIMERS: Rookie C Jayce Hawryluk, who missed last week’s games due to a concussion, skated on his own yesterday and is expected to practise in a no-contact jersey today … The Wheat Kings conclude their pre-season this weekend, hosting Moose Jaw Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Westman Place, before visiting the Warriors on Saturday … Brandon opens the regular season next week, entertaining the Regina Pats on Friday, Sept. 21 … Tri-City has acquired D Brodie Clowes from Victoria for a fifth-round pick in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. Clowes, 17, played the bulk of last season with Olds of the AJHL … The NHL’s Florida Panthers have officially assigned ex-Wheat Kings D Colby Robak, who practised with his former WHL team yesterday, to their AHL affiliate in San Antonio, Texas … The WHL finalized its longest suspension of the pre-season Wednesday, sitting Victoria D Tyler Stahl six games for a checking to the head major in a Sept. 7 game against Kelowna. Meanwhile, Vancouver C Anthony Ast was suspended for four games for a check to the head on Sept. 5 in Kamloops, while Medicine Hat RW Jacob Doty got two games for checking to the head on Sept. 9 vs. Lethbridge.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 13, 2012