After averaging nearly a point per game as a defenceman last season and being chosen in the second round of the Western Hockey League bantam draft, Ian Mitchell is obviously a pretty good player who figures prominently in the Brandon Wheat Kings’ plans.
But when your team’s first-round pick was the draft’s first overall selection, it’s easy to get a little bit lost in the shuffle.
Mitchell said he’s been "a little bit under the radar," while all the hype swirls around top pick Stelio Mattheos in Wheat Kings training camp this week at Westman Place, but he’s been content to quietly go about his business as long as those who matter most are noticing.
"I don’t have as much pressure coming in as Stelio does, but it’s obviously nice to come to a great organization like Brandon," said Mitchell, a 15-year-old from Calahoo, Alta., who was chosen 32nd overall in May’s draft. "I think it’s gone really well. All the guys really made me feel welcomed here and just the pace of the game is so much higher than I’m used to, so it’s really good to kind of get my feet wet and get used to it here in Brandon."
Mitchell had four goals, 17 assists and 26 penalty minutes in 24 Alberta Major Bantam AAA games with Spruce Grove’s Parkland Athletic Club Saints last season and has been a solid performer this week.
Mitchell said his main goal at camp is to make a good impression, with the intention of making the Wheat Kings a year from now when he’s old enough to play in the WHL. In the meantime, he plans to try out for the St. Albert Raiders Midget AAA team and hopes to make Alberta’s entry for the Canada Games in Prince George, B.C.
At 5-foot-10, 157 pounds, Mitchell said he plans to spend the next year working on his physical game.
"I just need to be tougher in the D-zone, make sure I’m not losing guys around the net and boxing people out in front," he said. "I feel like I’m a good offensive player, a good skater and if I can work on some of those things I feel that I can really succeed at this level."
ROOKIE WRAP: Nolan Patrick and Ty Lewis, a pair of picks from the 2013 bantam draft, took over the spotlight on Thursday as Team White completed a sweep of the three rookie camp scrimmages by beating Black 7-6 and 6-4.
The line of Patrick, Lewis and James McIsaac combined for 13 points for Team White in the first game, with Lewis scoring three goals and adding two assists, McIsaac notching two goals and a helper, and Patrick setting up five goals. Mattheos and Brandonite James Shearer also scored for the winners, while Mitchell, Mark Taraschuk, Linden McCorrister, Waylon Petkau, Brad Goethals and Brandon’s Tanner Kaspick found the net for Team Black.
In the last scrimmage of rookie camp, White got goals from six players, with Patrick assisting on three of them. Lewis scored again, with fellow Brandonite Bradley Schoonbaert, Kolby Chen, McKenzie Welke and Aaron Kellogg also striking.
Kale Clague had a goal and an assist for Black, which got its other goals from Goethals, Brandonite Duncan Campbell and Luc Alarie.
Lewis’s big day came to a premature end, however, as he left the evening scrimmage with an apparent arm injury. A hip injury kept Kaspick on the sidelines for the late session, while Tristen Elder missed all of Thursday’s action after being hurt on Wednesday night.
The Wheat Kings made cuts last night, with 50 players set to start main camp today.
See B4 for the full roster.