VANCOUVER - It's been a while since Morgan Rielly's parents have been able to eat supper at home and watch their son play hockey the same night.
How long? Rielly knew that one immediately.
“I haven't played a game in Vancouver since I was in Grade 8,” he said Tuesday on the eve of the WHL-Russia Subway Super Series showdown at Pacific Coliseum. “My dad is pretty pumped up about it. It's been quite some time. My parents are coming, my grandparents are coming. It's pretty exciting for me and my family.”
Rielly, 18, is from West Vancouver but left home in Grade 9 for Wilcox, Sask., and the Notre Dame Hounds. He then migrated to the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors and one day will likely play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who drafted him fifth overall in last June's NHL entry draft.
So there won't be many nights when Rielly will have an entire Vancouver crowd cheering him on. Wednesday will be one when he suits up for Team WHL in Game 5 of the Super Series against Nail Yakupov and the Russians. Faceoff time at the Coliseum is 7 p.m.
“It's a treat to come home and have a chance to play with the hometown crowd behind me,” Rielly said. “Hopefully it goes well.”
The Super Series is a de facto audition for Canada's world junior team. Beating the Russians would be nice but putting on a show for Team Canada's selection committee is really the prize at stake. That's why the WHL squad is comprised of Canadians only. The series is tied 2-2 and concludes Thursday in Victoria. Rielly is scheduled to dress for both games.
“As a team, I think our goal is to win two games but it is a tryout as well,” he said. “We have a pretty good group of high-end prospects here.”
The WHL team, to be coached by the Spokane Chiefs' Don Nachbaur, will be top heavy on the blueline. In addition to Rielly, Nachbaur will have Ryan Murray (second overall to Columbus, 2012), West Van's Griffin Reinhart (fourth overall to the Islanders, 2012), Matt Dumba (seventh overall to Minnesota, 2012) and Duncan Siemens (11th overall to Colorado, 2011). His sixth defenceman, Ryan Pulock, is expected to be a first-rounder next June.
Among the notable forwards are Sam Reinhart, North Vancouver's Colton Sissons and Adam Lowry, whose father Dave broke into the NHL with the Canucks and now coaches the Victoria Royals. Adam Lowry's mother is from Coquitlam so he, too, will have a large contingent at the Coliseum for Wednesday's game.
“I'm definitely excited,” said Lowry, a 6-5 left winger with the Swift Current Broncos. “I know this is where my dad got his start as a professional and it's always nice to be on the same ice where he once skated.”
Lowry was actually born in St. Louis when dad Dave was a Blue. He also lived in south Florida and San Jose before moving to Calgary as an 8-year-old. The family finally settled there. Adam Lowry has dual citizenship but has opted, internationally, to play for Canada.
“Calgary is where my development kind of got started and I really consider myself a Canadian when it comes to hockey,” he explained. “This is where I learned the game, where I developed and I'm proud to wear the sweater.”
Lowry, a third-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2011, would like to wear it in the world juniors and understands he needs a big performance at the Coliseum and again Thursday in Victoria.
“First and foremost, we want to win the series but if you can have some personal success along with helping the team win, that's also huge,” he said. “I know this is a stepping stone to being invited to the world junior camp. That's kind of all of our goals coming into this and I want to leave a good impression and show that I've continued to improve.”
ICE CHIPS: Dave and Adam Lowry will be reunited for the game in Victoria as Dave will serve as an assistant to Nachbaur. According to Adam, Dave's coaching career began during the 2004-05 NHL lockout when he stepped behind the bench of Adam's peewee team in Calgary... Ticket sales for Wednesday's game were trending toward the 12,000 mark Tuesday.
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