© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Brett Howden poses with Moose Jaw Warriors head coach Mike Stothers, left, GM Alan Millar and assistant GM/head scout Rob MacLachlan at the Warriors Prospect Camp reception.
Brett Howden brushed shoulders with some of the National Hockey League’s best players this past week.
He and the other 41 players who took part in the Allstate All-Canadians Mentorship Cup were hoping to learn as much as they could over five days to follow in their footsteps.
The third annual event brings together the best 15-year-old hockey players in the country. The players learn about fitness, nutrition, sports psychology and other off-ice areas and then play a game to conclude the week.
“It was a lot of fun. Obviously there were a lot of big time players there and it was really cool to learn from the best that there are in the game,” said Howden who was the Moose Jaw Warriors top pick in the most recent WHL bantam draft.
“Jeff Skinner, Jason Spezza and Logan Couture were on the ice with us,” said Howden, a six-foot-two forward from Oakbank, Man. “All of those guys are big time names in the NHL. Watching them on the ice and having them mentor us is quite amazing. Seeing what they can do on the ice and how they handle themselves in the media, what their character is like — it was a special experience for all of us.”
Even young elite players are well aware of the importance of diet and weight training, but Howden said that there was plenty of good information to take away from the camp.
“I learned a lot more about nutrition, how to keep your body healthy and in shape. On the mental side, I learned a lot of new things about how to keep your mental toughness up there and how to stay focused when things get tough,” he said.
Howden played on Team Spezza in the game as they skated to a 6-5 win over Team Couture Saturday.
“It was cool to grade yourself against the best 42 players in Canada. You get to see where you’re at and you get to challenge yourself,” said Howden.
“I felt good there. I felt like I was in the right spot. I was in good shape. Obviously all of the kids there were good. A lot of them were highly skilled, but I felt like I played my game and I did well.”
Howden picked up a couple of assists, but was less concerned about his stats in the game than how he performed shift to shift.
“Points will come and go, but I felt that I played a good game. If you put the effort in, the points will come,” said Howden.
Now Howden sets his sights on his first training camp with the Warriors. He is too young to be able to earn a spot on the team this season, but he is hoping to make a strong impression before beginning his Manitoba midget AAA season with the Eastman Selects.
He’s been working hard to get ready for camp and felt the competition at the Mentorship Cup helped his preparations.
“It gave me a big head’s up for it should be like at your first WHL training camp. It gave me a lot of help for what I should expect and how I should play there,” said Howden. “I’m getting myself prepared the best I can for the camp.”
The Warriors will report to camp on Aug. 21.