He is only 16 years old but defenceman Ryan Gagnon from Quesnel is serving notice that he is ready to make the jump to the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League.
Gagnon is making an impact at the Royals rookie camp because he has all the tools needed to perform at the next level.
I like taking the body and trying to join the offence when I can, said Gagnon, who comes from a hockey family.
Most of my uncles and my dad [Rene] played junior A hockey with the Quesnel Millionaires. My cousin Aaron is in the Winnipeg Jets organization. I started skating when I was four years old in my back yard.
This is Gagnons second camp with the Royals. Since last year, he has added 30 pounds and also grew a few inches. He is now six-foot-one and 190 pounds.
At this camp, Im continuing to work on my skills and playing hard, said Gagnon on Friday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. This camp is all about showing what I have and playing to the best of my ability. It is a little challenging to play on a new team but once you are in the locker-room, it is hockey. A big thing for me is communicating, on and off the ice.
I thought last years camp went good for me. I played in the intrasquad game and then I went to the Cariboo Cougars [B.C. Major Midget Hockey League team from Prince George]. I had a great year with the Cougars as I had a lot of ice time and improved in all aspects of the game.
In 38 regular-season games, Gagnon had four goals and 20 assists and he also collected 50 penalty minutes.
The Cougars made it to last years league final, losing out to the Vancouver Northwest Giants.
Gagnon was selected in the third round of the 2011 bantam draft, 56th overall. Forward Michael Bell from Kitimat, who is also at camp, was taken with the 55th selection.
Grant Armstrong, the director of player personnel for the Royals, likes what he sees in Gagnon.
He [Gagnon] is the type of player that I get excited about going to the rink and watching him play, said Armstrong. There is a tremendous upside to him and some day he will be a pro. He still hasnt reached his full growth potential and when I was with Portland, he was one of the kids that I wanted.
He moves so well on the ice, has a great stick and a good shot. He likes the physical aspects of the game and for our organization, he is a quality player. He is the type of player who is hard to play against.
There are 148 players at the rookie camp, divided into eight teams. Todays scrimmage sessions start at 8 a.m. and end at 10:15 p.m. All sessions are free of charge to the public. The rookie camp ends on Sunday and that is when the Royals staff will be making decisions about players moving onto main camp and reassignments.
The Royals are expecting between 80 and 100 players for the start of Mondays main camp and those scrimmage sessions go from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. The annual intrasquad game is Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. Admission is by donation.
© Copyright 2013