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Year in Waterloo was key to success in NHL draft
As it turned out, Brandon Montour simply needed a bit more exposure.
Despite being an offensively gifted defenceman who put up some decent numbers, Montour was bypassed by all 30 clubs in both the 2012 and 2013 National Hockey League Entry Drafts.
But for the 20-year-old, who lives in the Six Nations town of Ohsweken, Ont., it was a case of him being third time lucky. He was selected in the second round, 55th over-all, by the Anaheim Ducks at this year’s draft, held June 27 and June 28 in Philadelphia.
“I had talked to numerous teams throughout the year,” Montour said. “And I had a pretty good idea Anaheim was interested in me.”
Montour, who was born and grew up in Tilbury, Ont. before moving to Ohsweken four years ago, had played his first three years of junior eligibility in the Junior B ranks. He toiled for two seasons with the Brantford Eagles of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Montour then made the move with the organization when it relocated and became known as the Caledonia Corvairs for the 2012-13 campaign.
Since the GOJHL is not heavily recruited by pro scouts, entering his final season of eligibility in the junior ranks, Montour had explored the possibility of moving to western Canada, to hopefully play for a Junior A squad in either British Columbia or Alberta.
But then the Iowa-based Waterloo Black Hawks, members of the United States Hockey League, the top Junior A circuit in the U.S., came calling for him.
Montour had a splendid season with the Black Hawks, averaging more than a point per game. He racked up 62 points (14 goals, 48 assists) in 60 matches and finished second in team scoring.
More importantly, Montour impressed scouts from numerous NHL squads, who projected he would be an early-round pick at this year’s draft.
“It was probably the best decision of my life to go to Waterloo,” he said.
Besides finishing ninth in USHL scoring this past season, Montour also captured a pair of prestigious awards. Not only was he named the top defenceman in the league, he was also chosen as the Player of the Year, as voted by the USHL’s coaches and general managers.
Montour also excelled in the post-season. He was the USHL’s top pointgetter in the playoffs, earning 16 points in 12 games.
But Montour and his teammates came up a bit shy of winning the league crown, losing to the Indiana Ice in the championship final.
Montour has already had a bit of a taste of NHL life. He joined other Ducks’ draftees and prospects at the club’s week-long development camp, which ended on July 9 in Anaheim.
“I learned a lot there and it was a really fun experience,” Montour said.
Besides various on-ice sessions, those at the development camp also had plenty of bonding time. Activities that were planned for the camp invitees includes an Anaheim Angels’ baseball game, visits to amusement parks, a movie night and some beach time.
It won’t entirely be a summer of rest and relaxation, however, for Montour. His off-season schedule consists of plenty of training as he gears up for his first season of collegiate hockey in the NCAA.
Montour will be attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he plans to take business courses.
And the 6-foot, 185-pounder is also looking to improve his game. He’s hoping to bulk up by as many as 10 pounds for the coming season. Growing another inch or two would also be ideal.
“I have to keep growing and working on every aspect of my game,” he said. “Getting stronger is probably the biggest thing I have to do. That’s what I’ve been hearing my whole life.”
Montour also needs to decide rather soon whether he will continue to play box lacrosse. For the past two seasons he’s been a member of the Six Nations Arrows’ Junior A squad, a perennial powerhouse in the Ontario Lacrosse Association.
Montour had only played one of the Arrows’ first 19 regular season matches this year. The squad only has a 20-game regular season schedule but is expected to have a lengthy post-season run and Montour would undoubtedly be a welcome addition to the squad.
“They’ve been after me for a while now to play,” Montour said of the Arrows’ brass. “It’s my decision whether I play. But I don’t know if I want to risk it.”
Montour had collected 23 points in 13 matches with the Arrows last season. And during his rookie campaign with the Six Nations side he had racked up 43 points in 18 contests.
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