One day into Brandon Wheat Kings training camp and it’s been established that Stelio Mattheos knows how to make a grand entrance.
The first overall pick from this year’s Western Hockey League bantam draft opened the scoring a little more than a minute into his first scrimmage as a Wheat King, added another goal midway through the game and capped off his night with a beauty in the shootout as Team White nipped Team Black 5-4 on Wednesday at Westman Place.
"It’s been a great first day," the 15-year-old Winnipegger said. "I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far. The game today was a really fun experience. I was happy we played really well and I got to play with some great players."
Mattheos practised in the Wheat Kings’ spring prospects camp, but didn’t scrimmage or play in the camp-ending game due to a shoulder injury sustained while a member of the Winnipeg Monarchs at last season’s western Canadian bantam championship. Now fully healthy, the 6-foot-1, 184-pound centre put on a show last night, complementing his size with great speed, a hard shot and some soft hands that he displayed on his shootout attempt as he deked before lifting a backhand into the top of the net.
"Today I definitely wanted to make an impression," he said.
Mattheos certainly made an impression on the Brandon brain trust during his final season of bantam hockey as he led the Winnipeg AAA league with 53 goals and 103 points in 32 contests, convincing the Wheat Kings he was the man they wanted with their first-ever No.1 overall pick — acquired as part of the 2012 trade that sent Brenden Walker to the Saskatoon Blades.
The rookies will play two more scrimmages today before the veterans enter into the picture for main camp Friday. Mattheos said he’s anxious to see how the pace picks up.
"I’m definitely really excited for the challenge of playing with some really great players and some older guys and some vets," said Mattheos, who won’t be old enough to be a full-time Wheat King until next year, but hopes to get into some WHL pre-season games in the next two weeks. "I’m just going to have to make sure that I’m extra-sharp out there and every drill I just maximize my effort and limit my mistakes."
SCRIMMAGE SCORERS: James Shearer of Brandon and McKenzie Welke also scored in regulation for Team White, which was 3-for-3 in the shootout, getting goals from Brandonites Ty Lewis and Duncan Campbell in addition to Mattheos. Tanner Kaspick and Kirklan Lycar scored in the shootout for Team Black. Kaspick added a goal and an assist in regulation, matching fellow Brandonite Connor Gutenberg and Dylan Thiessen. Brad Goethals had the other Black goal.
CAMP NOTES: Defenceman T.J. Brown, 16, did not report to Wheat Kings rookie camp and is instead with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks … None of the Wheat Kings’ college-committed prospects (Colt Conrad, Wade Allison, Rhett Gardner, Ryan Lindgren and brothers Joey and Mikey Anderson) are in camp … Bradley Schoonbaert has joined Kaspick, Lewis, Campbell and Shearer to give last season’s Midget AAA Wheat Kings five players in rookie camp.