Motivated by snub, O’Brien blazes out of the gate

Robin
Robin Short
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The Acadie-Bathurst Titan’s Zach O’Brien recorded nine points in his first two Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games this season over the weekend. — Telegram file photo

Upset and just a little bit ticked off he wasn’t extended an invitation to a pro camp this fall, Zach O’Brien plans to use the snub as motivation which could spell trouble for Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams.

The slick St. John’s forward piled up nine points over two games as his Acadie-Bathurst Titan registered a pair of wins Friday and Saturday with the QMJHL kicking off its 2011-012 campaign.

In the Titan’s season-opener, an 8-1 win over the reigning Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs, O’Brien enjoyed a three-goal game.

However, the former provincial midget hockey star hadn’t been smiling a whole lot of late after going through the summer without even much as a hint of a training camp walk-on offer from NHL clubs.

And this after a 29-goal, 65-point QMJHL rookie campaign last season when he was invited to the San Jose Sharks’ rookie camp last September.

“I’m pretty upset about it,” he said, as most NHL camps prepare to open Friday, “but I’m going to use it as motivation this year.

“I guess there’s still a possibility, but at this late date, the chances are pretty slim.”

There was a possibility O’Brien, despite turning 19 in June, would be drafted in 2011 NHL Entry Draft, but no such luck. However, that may work to his advantage because if O’Brien chalks up big numbers this season, it’s likely several teams could show interest in the undrafted free agent meaning the player will be in a position to pick and choose.

O’Brien worked with well-known local strength and conditioning coach Bob Thompson over the summer and already has noticed a jump in his step.

While he’s a solid 188 pounds, O’Brien stands only 5-10 which is a mark against him in the eyes of the pro teams.

O’Brien is one of 11 Newfoundlanders playing in the QMJHL this season. The others are ...

Travis Randell of Twillingate is back for his final year — as an overager — with the Halifax Mooseheads, joining Steve Gillard of St. John’s. Andrew Ryan of Paradise is back for his second season, but suffered a setback in the pre-season when he sustained a broken ankle. The injury is expected to keep him sidelined for some time ... Keeping with injuries, Brandon Hynes of Norris Point could be out of the Victoriaville Tigres lineup for a while with a shoulder injury. It’s described as a Grade 2 sprain of the acromioclavicular joint, but as Hynes, a 71-point scorer last year, told The Western Star, “the shoulder is shagged up pretty bad.”...

 

... In Moncton, James Melindy of the Goulds and Scott Trask of Bonavista are back. Trask was involved in a serious accident over the summer when the driver of the vehicle in which he was travelling fell asleep. The truck went off the road, and flipped six to eight times. Amazingly, Trask emerged without a scratch. And the others in the vehicle also came away unscathed. “Before I knew it,” he told the Moncton Times, “I looked up and we were off the road and flipping. The noise was crazy. We all had our seatbelts on and that’s the only thing that saved us. All the windows were smashed.” ... In P.E.I., Michael Abbott of St. John’s is a rookie on the Rocket’s blueline and has assists through two games thus far ... In Quebec, Kurt Etchegary was the 24th overall pick in the June midget draft by Patrick Roy’s Remparts. Etchegary, from St. John’s, spent the past couple of years playing minor hockey in Quebec, most recently with the Lac St-Louis Lions midget team ... In Rouyn-Noranda, highly-touted Marcus Power of St. John’s hopes to make an impact with the Huskies following a 10-game audition last season. Power starred for the St. John’s Pennecon Privateers midget squad last year, winning provincial MVP honours ... Speaking of the Privateers, Mount Pearl’s Danny Wicks has landed with Gerard Gallant’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who won the Canadian championship last season. Wicks was provincial midget hockey’s top scorer last season ...

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, NHL, San Jose Sharks Moncton Times

Geographic location: Twillingate, Quebec, Norris Point Western Star Moncton Bonavista Rouyn-Noranda Mount Pearl

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  • dan brissett
    September 12, 2011 - 13:09

    Bravo, Mr. Short and the Telegram, ignorance is bliss, once again. Aaron Hoyles... Gander native... QMJHL with Montreal? Oh, missed him did you?