Jade Portwood, Curtis Leinweber and Brad Gorham are the three junior class members on the 2010-2011 Seawolves roster. As upperclassmen, these three now have leadership responsibilities which weren't a concern for them last season. They must each demonstrate to their underclassmen teammates commitment and responsible play as an example. It's important that each of these three juniors also provide scoring. How much? How about saying each of them ought to have their best career numbers in terms of scoring.
Achieving that level shouldn't be too difficult. Jade had 3 goals in 32 games last season and 2 as a freshman. Curtis had 4 goals last year and 2 as a freshman. Brad is yet to provide his first collegiate goal as a Seawolf in his 14 games since transferring. Both Curtis and Brad are listed in the roster as both a forward and defenseman. Looking at the full roster and having a decent sense about which these two guys bring, I'd initially guess that Curtis will play lots of time as a forward and Brad will play lots of time on the blueline. Jade already has an established role which I imagine will continue and perhaps expand this season.
These three juniors are important cogs in the wheel of Seawolf hockey this season. Each for a differing reasons; but the expression of team success will be proportionally related to how well these three guys go.
Jade is a big hard charging winger in the best tradition of such players to come out of western Canada. His 6ft 3in and 210lbs packs quite a whallop when it hits with speed. And Jade is lucky to be one of those big guys that can motor. As a freshman in 28 games, his job was to bang bodies in all three zones. He did that job well. As a sophomore Jade continued to fill an energy player role but also began to pick up quite a few penalty killing shifts until earning a regular spot doing so. Jade would seem to be a good example for younger players in need of learning how to become a 2-way player at this level. In order for him to become what I'd call a consummate 2-way player, he'll need to add more scoring. Last year Jade only had 28 shots attempted. That's in 32 games played.
I'm going to imagine here that this season Curtis plays at forward exclusively. If that is the case then I think his numbers could really blow up this season. Curtis has much of the same skill, grit and determination of a Kevin Clark. He is opportunistic and has the quickness and/or flat out speed to turn nothing into a scoring chance. I don't find any reason that he shouldn't score more if (like Jade) he'll just shoot the puck a bit more often. He only took 42 shots last year. Curtis is also an important penalty killer. Having an opportunistic breakaway-capable forward when you're short-handed only helps. If Curtis doesn't score at least a dozen goals this season I'll be surprised. I think his potential is a bit higher than that.
Brad has been an important addition to the blueline since his first shift halfway through last season. He's a smart and responsible blueliner with the an incredibly deft poke-checking ability. He steps up into the oncoming offensive rush as adeptly as any blueliner could. This is why I think we'll see Brad on defense all season long. He is also more than capable bringing the puck up on an offensive rush. I expect to see some role on the power play as a trigger man from the point. That is a role that needs to be filled by a smart mature player. With no goals as a Seawolf there is no place but up to go statistically. Brad will also be seeing time this season killing penalties in what I'm sure will be a season of increasing responsibility.
Yep. There is every reason to expect that each of these three players will have their best season in a Seawolf jersey.