John Quenneville turns up ice with the puck in Wheat Kings practice Tuesday afternoon at Westman Place. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
No, that line of hair across John Quenneville’s upper lip isn’t a tribute to his second cousin, famously moustached Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville.
Rather, it’s the Brandon Wheat Kings rookie’s Movember effort and he’s worried that he’s falling behind some of his teammates.
"I’ve got to try and keep up with some of the older guys," he grinned. "It’s pretty tough."
One area where the 16-year-old from Edmonton is certainly holding his own against the vets is his on-ice production.
Despite limited ice time this season, Quenneville is 10th on the Wheat Kings in scoring, with four goals and seven points in 16 games. On Sunday, he had the first multi-goal game of his Western Hockey League career, scoring twice to help Brandon snap a four-game losing streak with a 5-3 road win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
"It feels good," Quenneville said of the breakout game. "I guess I was just in the right place at the right time and it really boosts your confidence.
"There’s always struggles that come along, up and downs that come along with playing as a young guy in the WHL, but I think I’m really learning to handle myself out there."
Quenneville was considered by some scouts to be a first-round prospect for the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft and the Wheat Kings had the good fortune of being able to nab him in the third round. Always a big scorer, the 6-foot-0, 194-pound Quenneville also has the potential to develop into a strong two-way forward in the eyes of Wheat Kings head coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk.
"I think Johnny’s got really good offensive instincts and upside," Gylywoychuk said. "He can shoot the puck really well. He’s a guy who’s scored a lot as a younger guy, but I think one of the things Johnny’s got to work at is his defensive game. He’s got to be a two-way player for us. … It’s something he’s worked on and I think in the future you’re going to see Johnny be a very good Western Hockey League player in both ends of the ice."
Quenneville’s status as an elite player in his age group was confirmed last week when he was named to the Alberta/ British Columbia Team Pacific for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, beginning Dec. 29 in Victoriaville and Drummondville, Que. He was a member of the Alberta team that won the U-16 Western Challenge in Moose Jaw, Sask., last year and he’s excited about continuing to the next level.
"It’s a big honour," said Quenneville, who will be joined on Team Pacific by goaltender Jordan Papirny, a former minor hockey teammate who was chosen by the Wheat Kings in the first round of last year’s bantam draft. "So many good players have played for that team in the past that have moved on to great things and it’s just really exciting to be a part of that team."
ONE-TIMERS: The Wheat Kings, who have a 10-11-2-1 record after going 1-2 on a road trip last weekend, return home to host the Eastern Conference leading Prince Albert Raiders on Friday (7:30 p.m., Westman Place) … Bernie Chrisp, the vice-president of the local bid committee for the 2017 Canada Summer Games and a former member of Brandon’s Memorial Cup host committee, will be honoured at Friday’s game as the first Atom-Jet Group Innovator of the Month for this season.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 21, 2012