Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
It was a big 2018 for Brockville Braves Simon Mack.
The Brockville-born defenceman recently returned from the World Jr. A Challenge. Soon after coming home from the international tournament he found out he was one of 40 players invited to the CJHL Prospects game, which will be held Jan. 22 in Alberta. Earlier in the year he earned a spot on the CCHL Robinson roster at the Eastern Canada Cup. This season he was named the CCHL’s high school academic player of the month for October. At the end of last season he won the Braves rookie of the year award and he was picked to be on the CCHL’s all-rookie team.
That’s a tough act to follow.
What does he have up his sleeve for 2019? “I’m not totally sure yet, honestly,” said Mack, who has posted 19 points in 30 games this season with the Braves. “I’m just focusing on the here-and-now. To be completely honest with you, I haven’t thought about it all too much.”
Although Mack is focused on the present, some of the things he’s doing now might indicate some bigger accolades in the near future.
The 17-year-old committed to play for Penn State for the 2020-21 season about two years ago at this time. He’s talked with Penn State staff about potentially coming a year early. Mack has stayed in constant contact with coaches from the Pennsylvania school, but said there hasn’t been a decision made from the university as to his future plans for next season.
The school did ask Mack to take his SAT test and send in an application, though, so there’s potential he might be suiting up in the blueand-white of the Nittany Lions sooner than later.
“The fact they asked me to do that is hopefully a good sign,” said Mack.
His invitation to the CJHL Prospects game was handed to him through the efforts of NHL Central Scouting, which means he has a real shot at getting drafted in June.
Mack has already spoken to a few NHL teams this season.
“It’s, obviously, an honour to be recognized that way and it’s nice to have those things, but like I said before it’s not something I’m really focusing on. It’s nice for it to happen and it’s something I worked for – to be recognized like this and hopefully get drafted and living that goal I’ve set for myself. But, like I said, it’s not what I came here to do this year.”
You couldn’t write a hometown story much better than Mack’s tale. Here’s a humble local kid who plays his junior hockey career with the hometown team he grew up watching. Now he gets set for the college ranks and potentially beyond.
The right-shooting defenceman seems to soak up every challenge thrown his way. There was a bit of a learning curve last year in his rookie season with the Braves, but by January he was one of the best defenceman on the team. At the World Jr. A Challenge he quickly adapted to the faster level.
His skating is, arguably, the best in the CCHL right now, whether you’re comparing him to forwards or defencemen. His speed and acceleration are on another level. He can stop on a dime and break to the side so quickly an opponent has little time to react to his movements.
While this article is focusing on Mack’s future, it’s his past that has built this path for him. Those years of early morning practices at the Youth Arena and waking up at 5:30 a.m. to drive to Ottawa on Tuesday mornings for power skating lessons look to be paying dividends for him.
“Over the years I’ve always worked on skating more than anything,” said Mack.
And, it shows.
Original Story at Recorder.ca