After proving his worth as a goal-scorer in January, Tim McGauley is showing off his skills as a playmaker this month.
Getting off to an early start by tallying on New Year’s Eve, the 17-year-old Brandon Wheat Kings rookie began 2013 on a goal-scoring binge, striking seven times in 10 games.
Now he’s working his way up the Western Hockey League’s rookie scoring race by distributing the puck, with 12 assists in nine February contests.
"I think I’ve been playing the same game, it’s just that the pucks bounce in different ways," McGauley said after setting up two goals in the Wheat Kings’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Kootenay Ice on Saturday night at Westman Place, including the third-period marker that sent the game to the extra session. "... I’m just trying to get our team to win the games. As long as we win games, anything goes with me."
Even though McGauley’s assist on Saturday’s tying goal was a shot, it was still an example of him trying to make a play for a teammate. On a 2-on-1 with Marek Kalus, McGauley’s shot towards the far pad of Ice netminder Mackenzie Skapski was a set play designed to get a rebound for his linemate and it worked as the Czech winger crashed the net and delivered the key short-handed goal.
The two-assist game lifted the McGauley’s scoring total to 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 55 games this season, eighth among WHL freshmen.
"Timmy’s challenging himself," Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk said of Saskatoon’s first-round pick (20th overall) from the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, who came to Brandon in the deal that sent Brayden Schenn to the Blades.
"I think that he’s working really hard. I think Timmy’s getting rewarded for some of the work and we knew there was an offensive upside and his offensive instincts were there."
Gylywoychuk and McGauley both say the piece of the puzzle that requires the most work now is the young centre’s play in his own zone. Although he wasn’t on the ice when Jon Martin secured the win by scoring his second of the game, 1:17 into OT, he was out there for Kootenay’s first three goals.
"For me, especially, I’ve got to bear down there and get pucks off the glass and out," McGauley said. "I was on for I think three of their goals (on Saturday), so I’ve got to be way better in the ‘D’ zone."
ONE-TIMERS: D Ryan Pulock and LW Nick Buonassisi also scored on Saturday for the Wheat Kings, who overcame a 3-1 second-period deficit to force OT … RW Brock Montgomery and C Kyle O’Connor rounded out the scoring for Kootenay as the Ice salvaged a split of their two-game set in Brandon … Wheat Kings G Curtis Honey stopped 38 shots, while Skapski made 24 saves for the Ice.