Our tradition of having draft eligible players appear as guest bloggers continues for 2015. We've spoken with a few players already who have verbally agreed to penning their thoughts with us throughout the 2014-15 season and the first guest blog came in this weekend.
The Red Deer Rebels will be a must-see team this year for NHL scouts because the club boasts four players who were rated on the early season Preliminary List from NHL Central Scouting. We're thrilled to announce today that one of those players has come on board as one of our guest bloggers this year.
Grayson Pawlenchuk hails from just outside of Edmonton and was an "In Studio" guest this past July with a couple of other local WHLers who are now in their NHL draft season. After meeting and speaking with the Rebels forward that day, it was obvious that he was a player who we wanted to extend the invitation to.
After the jump, the first entry this season from Red Deer Rebels forward Grayson Pawlenchuk.
|Photo: Dave Brunner / Red Deer Rebels
My name is Grayson Pawlenchuk, I am 17 years old and I’m from a small town outside of Edmonton, Alberta called Ardrossan. I live on an acreage out in the country where I like to dirt bike and ski-doo in my spare time. I come from a big family having 3 brothers and 2 sisters for a total of 5 siblings. One brother and sister are older than I am, the rest are younger. The ages vary from 7-22 years old. All my brothers play hockey as well and my sisters ride horses.
I have lived in Ardrossan my whole life in the same house and grew up going to school there at Holy Redeemer from Kindergarten to grade 8. In grade 9 I went to Ardrossan public school which is right beside Holy Redeemer, in grade 10 I switched to go to high school in Sherwood Park at Archbishop Jordan.
I am entering my second year with the Rebels after an exciting rookie season, but my hockey career first started when I was 4 years old.
I began playing hockey for Strathcona, the county that Ardrossan is in, where I started playing initiation. My next 3 years I played 'Tom Thumb' and the next two years after I played novice, I don’t remember very much from those first years of hockey as I was still very young.
|Photo: Rob Wallator / WHL
One of the things I remember most about the start of my career is in my second year of Atom I was named captain of the team. It was also a big year for me because I got invited to the Team Brick tryouts and I made the team making me one of the top players in Alberta - a huge accomplishment for me.
I played two years of Atom to move on to only one year of 'Pee Wee'. I had a good year my first year of 'Pee Wee' so they moved me up to try out for Bantam AA as an underage because Strathcona didn't have a AAA team. To make the team I had to finish top 5 in tryouts which I did so I played that year as an underage.
It was a good season for me too and I went into the next year hoping to make Bantam AAA in Sherwood Park. I didn’t make the team and like every other kid that loves the game and has gotten cut, I was crushed and so disappointed.
That was a big point for me though in my life; I learned that if you want to be good at something you have to work at it and put a lot of time and energy into it to get better. That included spending most of my summer on the ice and working out off the ice.
I worked hard and the next year, my third year of Bantam, I made the AAA team. It was a fun year for me having a great coach and making a lot of new friends. After the season I tried out for Alberta cup and made the team for my zone, the North East Flyers. We won the tournament and it was one of the greatest feelings to win a big tournament like that. After that I had the Bantam draft where I was drafted to Red Deer in the 4th round, 74th overall.
Shortly following that I played my first WHL pre-season game, it was an amazing experience to play with guys that are in the WHL and see how fast the game is and how hard everyone plays. When I got back from that I tried out for midget AAA in Sherwood Park and made that team.
The summer before that I had tryouts for U16 Team Alberta. It was fun and hard at the same time. We were in dorms with all the other players and you had a roommate but on the ice you had to work hard and try to play your best to make the team. I also made that team and it was special getting to represent my province. We didn't get the outcome we wanted coming second place to Team BC though.
At Christmas during my midget season, I got called up by the Rebels and was able to play in my first 4 regular season games. That was a huge eye opener for where I needed to be and wanted to get to.
The next summer I had my u17 Team Pacific tryouts which is Alberta and BC combined. It was cool playing with all the top players from Alberta and BC and trying to make the team.
I then tried out for the Red Deer Rebels. I made the team and got off to a great start with 7 points in 6 games but then in the 7th game I broke my elbow. It required surgery and I missed 3 months because of it. I was also named to the u17 team but was unable to play because of my broken elbow. It was one of the hardest things to recover from because I had to get back into shape and get used to the speed of the WHL. After missing 28 games I got back into the lineup.
This past summer I was one of the 44 players in Canada invited to play for U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. Unfortunately I did not make the team but being listed to tryout for the team was already a huge accomplishment for me. Getting to play with the top players in Canada my age really showed me where I need to get to. That brings me to where I am now heading into my second year with the Rebels.
This season I’m focused on being a consistent player who brings it every game. I want to be a great two-way player who is used in all situations that the coach can trust to put on the ice. I take great pride in being a good defensive player who is also physical and likes to hit. I am known as a power forward and I believe that it is true about me. I'm not all about points but when I do get them its a great bonus. My goal for this year is to try to and score every second game so around 30 goals this year. If I continue to build my confidence and finish the chances I do get, I think this is possible.
|Photo: Stephen Simon / WHL
I have learned a lot from veterans like Conner Bleackley and Haydn Fleury who both were first rounders last year in the NHL draft. They have brought great leadership to me and helped me stay focused on the game and corrected things that I have done wrong to help me.
Our team has also gotten great news lately that we are the host of the 2016 Memorial Cup. That is going to be a great experience for me to be a part of that and also a huge learning experience for me. Our team's goal is to get there this year though and that's what we are focused on.
That's all I have for this one. Thank you to Guy Flaming and The Pipeline Show for having me on the show last summer and also for giving me the opportunity to write this. If anyone has any questions for me to answer in my next blog feel free to message me on twitter (@pawly97) or Facebook. I look forward to updating you about my season this year and how the Rebels are doing.
All the best,
Grayson Pawlenchuk is listed by NHL Central Scouting as a 5' 11.5", 183 lb Left Winger. He is currently playing on the top line in Red Deer alongside Conner Bleackley and Wyatt Johnson and has produced 4 goals and 3 assists for 7 points through the first dozen games with the Rebels.