Flames prospect Sieloff a terror on the Spitfires blueline
Hard-hitting defenceman makes preliminary roster for U.S. World Junior squad
At 18, he’s enough of a boy to admit that the thing he misses most about being away from home is his dog, Spot.
But he’s enough of a grown-up to have cast a vote — via absentee ballot — in the recent U.S. presidential election.
“It’s another step in your life in the adult world,” says the Windsor Spitfires blue-liner. “You’re not a little kid anymore.”
On the ice, however, there is very little grey area for the lad. It’s all black and blue.
He knows exactly where he stands. And it would be prudent for opponents to take note of Sieloff’s whereabouts, too.
An old-school defender, he relishes the opportunity to flatten day-dreaming encroachers. This appetite for contact is what made the Ann Arbor, Mich., native a second-round pick of the Calgary Flames this past June.
And now it’s what makes Sieloff part of the Americans’ preliminary roster leading up to the world junior tourney in Russia.
Other Flames prospects invited to the Dec. 16-18 camp in Tarrytown, N.Y., include Providence freshman netminder Jon Gillies (twice named Hockey East’s defensive player of the week) and Boston College sophomore pepper pot Johnny Gaudreau (who, with seven goals and seven assists in seven games, took Hockey East’s player-of-the-month honours for November).
“If you come watch Patty play three or four games in a row, his compete level is through the roof,” says Bob Boughner, president and coach of the Spitfires. “I’ve never seen a guy compete this hard. (The U.S. team) needs that kind of an edge. The team can’t be all finesse. I hope he makes the team, and I think he will make the team.
“It’s got to be great for his confidence. He very much deserves it.”
The Spitfires, who had acquired Sieloff’s rights in October 2011, have no quibbles about their early returns. After pinning an ‘A’ on the kid’s chest and turning him loose for his first winter in the Ontario Hockey League, they’ve been rewarded.
“He’s got leadership qualities and he’s a nasty guy,” says Boughner, former roughhouser of the Flames. “A real nice addition for us. Penalty killing. Shutting down top lines. And he gets people out of their seats at least once a game with a huge hit. It’s a huge skill of his, timing that hit perfectly. It’s fun to watch. He can influence a game physically.”
While Sieloff is no offensive dynamo, with nine points in 29 games, he has been a rock on Windsor’s back-end. And when he isn’t crumpling teammates in practice — “I’ve had to tell him on a few occasions to slow down a bit,” says Boughner, “and put a smile on his face” — he’s mowing down forwards at a clip that impresses even him.
“To be honest, I’m getting a few more than I usually do,” says the six-foot-one, 197-pounder, adding that he’s not forcing the issue. “I can’t go around headhunting guys. Sometimes when we’re down by a goal, it can be a momentum-changer . . . and fighting on top of that might help (the team).”
Yes, because scrapping and Sieloff’s open-ice belts seem to go hand in hand — whether he likes it or not.
“Obviously,” says Boughner, “he gets his door knocked on after a big hit.”
He has dropped his gloves on five occasions. Four of those times, the enemy has taken an instigating minor after seeing a teammate battered by Sieloff.
“It’s not something to be scared of,” says Sieloff, who owns a team-high 59 penalty minutes. “That’s something everyone has been asking me — ‘Do you get sick of it?’ It’s something that, going into the hit, I’m expecting. If (the fight) doesn’t happen, I’m OK. If it does, I’m there. After a big hit, adrenalin is kicking in . . . so I think I do pretty well with those (fights), I manage myself pretty well.”
No angel, Sieloff has been twice chucked from games for charging. No suspensions, though. He is hoping that some time soon, respect will kick in. After all, he’s continued to bodycheck, knowing full well what awaits him. So maybe one day the need to test him will vanish.
Sieloff is wishful, but not exactly optimistic.
“We haven’t played all the teams yet.”
Follow Scott Cruickshank on Twitter/CruickshankCH
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