Life would be great if only Adam Mascherin could have the same offensive success as last season, right?
Well forget last season. Mascherin is setting his sights on higher goals and an even larger impact for the Kitchener Rangers in 2017-18.
The 19-year-old, Maple, ON native has now embarked on his fourth year in the Ontario Hockey League and, according to him, the stakes have never been higher in terms of the expectations he has for himself in helping the team win.
The winger capped off an impressive 2016-17 campaign with 100 points – 35 goals, 65 assists – and was one of just three players in the league to hit the century mark.
But the surreal high of personal success eventually gave way to frustrating lows in the offseason as the Florida Panthers’ prospect required shoulder surgery which impeded his ability to train in a similar way to summers past, and also caused him to miss the Panthers’ preseason Development Camp.
Despite the wrench thrown into his offseason routine, the sniper isn’t feeling like the surgery has affected his momentum after coming off such a big year. The potent point producer has already posted four goals and six points through the team’s first eight games.
“I think it just adds a bit of confidence for me,” said Mascherin. “The fact I can go into every game now without having to feel or think about that injury will be huge.”
100-points with a nagging shoulder.
Imagine what he may do fully healthy.
Not only will Mascherin be expected to be an offensive juggernaut, he’ll also be looked upon to be a moral leader to his peers, being it his fourth year at The Aud.
“It’s a privilege to play in Kitchener and get the number of fans with the energy they bring every night. To be able to be looked to as a leader of a team like ours is definitely something I value.”
Not unlike the thousands of players before him who have seen their hockey path bring them through the OHL, he’s stunned at how fast the years have gone by. He remembers what it was like for him to look up to older players for guidance, support and the same leadership that is now being asked of him.
“It’s crazy. I have no idea how it’s flown by so fast,” he said of his first three seasons. “I believe I’ve gotten better, first of all as a person, but second of all as a player and I feel like I’ve definitely matured in both of those areas.
“I’m aware that I was once where our younger guys are now. When you’re just starting out you look up to guys who are older and guys who are drafted, because you want to achieve those same results. I’m glad I can give back and do that for younger guys now, like it was once done for me.”
He’s certainly got his plate full as the regular season gets underway and the pressures and expectations of Rangers Nation mount, but Mascherin wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The excitement level is pretty big,” he said of the vibe in the Rangers’ dressing room. “The compete level at practice has been a lot higher than in recent years, and so has positivity.
And why not? The Rangers got off to a strong start to the campaign following an opening night game that got away from them against the Flint Firebirds, a 5-3 loss, to bounce back and collect points in their next five games.
Their most recent tilt gave them even more to be thankful for, a 4-1 win over the CHL’s second ranked Owen Sound Attack, improving their record on the early season to 5-2-1-0.
“We’ve got a lot of skilled players and high-end guys and we really believe we can do something special this year,” Mascherin said. “We also have a coaching staff that we know believes in us and what we can do as a team. That means a lot to us.”
The off-season workouts, rehab and the lengthy countdown to puck drop has come and gone, and Mascherin and his Rangers’ teammates have a clear target in sight.
“Obviously, you’d like to make it to the playoffs, that’s a given. But we don’t want to stop there. We want to win the league. We want to go to the Memorial Cup. We want to win. Those things are all on the list.”
The next Kitchener Rangers SPOTLIGHT will feature defenceman and Dearborn Heights, MI native Doug Blaisdell.