Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday notes: Veleno good at hockey

WATERLOO, Ont. - Nolan Patrick made a triumphant return to the Brandon Wheat Kings lineup on Friday night, recording two goals and two assists.

The 2017 NHL Draft's top prospect has played in just seven games this season due to injury. Last night was his first game action since Oct. 11.

Despite missing so much time - and despite Halifax Mooseheads import Nico Hischier having a strong first half and World Junior tournament - Patrick is still projected to go first overall.
Like Patrick, Saint John's Joe Veleno has missed much of his season due to injury. Despite missing a lot of time, Veleno, who turned 17 yesterday, is having a good campaign with the Sea Dogs, recording four goals and 13 assists in 18 games. He has been held pointless in just five of those games.

Following Saint John's Oct. 21 game, Veleno didn't play again until Dec. 17. He quickly found his game though and has registered three goals and seven assists in the nine games following his return.

Averaging just under a point-per-game, Veleno's strong numbers have gone under the radar on a stacked Sea Dogs team - and that's probably an okay thing since there will be plenty of attention on him next season, which is his draft year.

During a World Junior broadcast last month, TSN's Bob McKenzie mentioned that Veleno is in the conversation for the first overall pick in 2018. Elite Prospects has a list of players categorized as top prospects for next year's draft, which, along with Veleno, features local talent Anderson MacDonald of the Sherbrooke Phoenix and Halifax rookies Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Jared McIsaac.

Some other notes...
  • Speaking of MacDonald, he currently sits third in QMJHL rookie scoring with an impressive 24 goals and 35 points in 36 games with Sherbrooke.
  • Luke Green has 10 assists in eight games since joining the Phoenix. He has been held pointless just once.
  • The Sea Dogs play their next four games at home: Sunday vs Cape Breton, Tuesday vs Moncton, Friday vs Chicoutimi and Saturday vs Baie-Comeau. Tuesday's game is listed as an 8 p.m. start.
  • The Dogs will hold a pre-game ceremony before Sunday's game to honour the team's World Junior Hockey Championship participants. It will also be Julien Gauthier's first home game.
  • The Wildcats front office would not confirm to the Times & Transcript, but Quebec media reported this past week that Moncton is interested in hosting the 2019 Memorial Cup, which would be the first year of their new arena. Saint John and Halifax have also expressed interest in hosting. No matter who wins, it looks like the tournament will be in the Maritimes for the first time since 2006 (Moncton).
  • I'm no construction expert, but does it not seem like it's taking a long time to build Moncton's new arena? It's opening for Moncton's 2018-19 season, which is well over a year away from now. From the pictures I've seen it looks like it's coming together fairly quickly. 
  • Also, the Wildcats have more draft picks than you.
  • I'm writing this at Williams Fresh Cafe on the University of Waterloo campus. Nice place if you're ever in the area and need to kill several hours because you thought the Warriors game started at 4 p.m. and not 6:30 p.m.

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