The Moose Jaw Warriors’ first practice after the Christmas break Sunday was noteworthy for a lot of reasons.
For a start, the Warriors had three new faces on the ice — defencemen Morgan Rielly and Joel Edmundson and left winger Danny Gayle.
Rielly, the Warriors top pick, second overall in the 2009 Bantam Draft, is playing Midget AAA with the Notre Dame Hounds. The 15-year-old can only dress for five regular season games.
Rielly has eight goals and 13 assists in 24 games with the Hounds in the SMAAAHL.
Edmundson was chosen in the sixth round, 112th overall in the 2008 Bantam Draft. The six-foot-three defenceman has signed an education contract and is playing with the Brandon Midget AAA Wheat Kings. The Wheat Kings are 23-5-2 and Edmundson has been a big part of their season.
Gayle, 17, is third in scoring with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. He has 11 goals and 13 assists in 40 games in his rookie season. The six-foot-one speedster has also signed an education contract with the Warriors.
If and when any of the prospects will feature for the Warriors in their coming games remains to be seen, but as the team struggled heading into the Christmas break, it’s clear that the internal battle for spots and playing time continues.
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On a negative note, defenceman Ryan Stanton did not practice Sunday and there is a fear the 20-year-old may have mononucleosis. He will be evaluated Monday, but it would be a tough loss with Travis Hamonic already off representing his country at the World Juniors.
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Speaking of prospects, Nathan Smith — the Warriors’ third round pick in the 2008 Bantam Draft — was named the AJHL’s player of the week.
Smith played one game with the Warriors as a 15-year-old a season ago, but failed to make the team out of camp.
With the Drayton Valley Thunder, Smith scored five goals and had seven points in four games between December 14–22. Smith is on a roll as he has scored in nine of his last 10 games.
The five-foot-eight forward has 13 goals and 25 points in 37 games in his rookie season with the Thunder.