It has been a week to remember for Kindersley Klippers defenceman Mac Gross.
The 17-year-old freshman had his first multi-point game, including his first goal, in a 4-1 victory over the Weyburn Red Wings on Saturday and then two days later it was announced that he will be one of two Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League players (Yorkton netminder Ryan Ouellette is the other) competing at the annual Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Top Prospects Game scheduled for January 14 in Hamilton, Ont.
“It was a nice surprise,” admits the Swift Current product, who has played in every game this year and now has 10 points early in his Junior “A” career. “I knew I was on the NHL Central Scouting watch list, but it was a nice surprise.”
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound rearguard says that he has been a fan of Los Angeles King superstar Drew Doughty for a long time and he tries to emulate him in being a strong two-way player. Kindersley coach Larry Wintoneak assesses his skills even further.
“He’s smart; he sees the ice well and his biggest strength is his anticipation,” says Wintoneak. “He has vastly improved since the start of the season and we use him in all situations so he has developed through all of that.”
“He’s a very good student of the game and we enjoy coaching him,” adds Wintoneak.
Still eligible to be playing midget hockey, Gross moved up to the SJHL after getting a taste of hockey at that level last spring when he was summoned for the Klippers’ playoff match against the Melfort Mustangs. He says the SJHL has been a good experience for him.
“It’s been a little rough going through a couple of coaches and then my first time billeting, but it has been a good experience,” says Gross.
Drafted by both the Klippers and the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs in 2017, Gross says he isn’t sure what his future holds for him, but he is keeping his options open. For now he is focused on helping Kindersley maintain its position in the standings and claim a berth in the post-season. It will be a battle right to the end, but knowing he is one of the top 40 draft eligible players in the CJHL should give him even more confidence heading into the stretch run.