Wed Jun 01 11:55am EDT
Buzzing The Net is profiling Canadian Hockey League players who are in their NHL draft season.
While growing up in Manhattan Beach, Calif., Shane McColgan took the road less travelled by pursuing hockey over several sports that are much more popular in Southern California.
"My older brother played hockey and that helped me get into the sport," says McColgan, who is NHL Central Scouting's 125th-ranked North American skater but might have recovered some of his lost standing after posting 19 playoff points for the WHL's Kelowna Rockets.
"I started playing ball hockey and then we got the Toyota Centre and then we got like five more rinks shortly after that. Then I started getting into ice hockey and eventually just fell in love with the sport."
"It was good for California to have some of their own go in the first round of the draft" the 5-foot-8, 165-pound right wing says. "And I actually know both of them. I played peewee and bantam with Etem and you know now I'm playing against him in the WHL. I also played with Bennett and I know him pretty good too. There both very good players and California seems to have a lot of good young players that are coming up the ranks."
Despite moving over 2,000 km at age 16 to join the Rockets, McColgan felt it was a smooth transition.
"Moving to Kelowna was actually pretty easy," McColgan said. "The first couple months I was pretty homesick, but as time went on I started to really love it here. I've bonded with my billets and Kelowna is such a beautiful place to live."
After scoring 25 goals and 69 points in his rookie season, McColgan's potential seemed to be limitless, with many projecting him as a possible first-round NHL choice. The right wing's prospect stock took a hit after showing some regression in his sophomore season. McColgan, 18, tallied 21 goals and 66 points, slightly down from his rookie year.
However, McColgan's phenomenal playoff performance made one forget about his regular-season woes. He notched eight goals and 19 points in 10 post-season games, including a hat trick and an assist against the Portland Winterhawks in Game 1 of a second-round series.
"The coaching staff sat me down and told me how they're counting on me to step up in the playoffs and I took that to heart," McColgan said. "I feel I'm a guy that can really step up when my team needs me the most and I think I showed it in this years playoffs."
1. What part of your game do you feel will stand out to scouts the most?
"Being a smaller player, I feel my speed is one of my best assets. I can challenge players and beat them to the outside. Also my playmaking abilities, I feel I'm a pretty good setup man on the power play and even strength. And I'm a team player, I always try and do whats best for the team."
2. How do you feel about your past season?
"I feel it was a pretty good year. I had surgery at the start of the year because I had to take out my tonsils. I think the surgery slowed me down a little bit and hindered my play for a couple games, but once I was fully recovered I think I really started to get going. It seemed I got better with every game and I had a real strong playoff."
3. Do you feel your rookie season in WHL was stronger than your second season?
"I don't feel it was stronger. I did have more points, but I feel my overall game this year was better than last year. I think I made a stronger impact in Kelowna this year with my defensive game and just making more things happen out there."
4. Do you try and model your game after a player in the National Hockey League?
"I try and be like [New Jersey Devils centre] Zach Parise and (Tampa Bay Lightning forward] Martin St. Louis. They are smaller players that can fly past defenders. I also try and be like [Pittsburgh Penguins star] Sidney Crosby, he's very skilled and he handles himself really well on and off the ice."
5. Who's your favourite National Hockey League team?
"I'm a big fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I love how they're a fast team and Sidney Crosby is one of my favourite players. I also went to a lot of Los Angeles Kings games while I was living in California. They would have to be another one of my favourite teams to watch. I guess I don't have one favourite team, just a couple teams that I cheer for and like to watch."
Kelly Friesen is a Western Hockey League writer for Yahoo! Sports Canada. Follow him on twitter @KellyFriesen. (Photo: WHL.)