Sackville’s Liam Conrad was recently a first round pick in the midget draft.
He brought an excellent resume to St. Stephen and wasn’t totally surprised that the newly-created Charlotte County Aces took him in the first round of the midget draft although even with that he was excited and nervous at the same time facing the fact he must make some major decisions between now and training camp in late August.
Liam Conrad, a high scoring forward with the Moncton Flyers AAA Midgets has a number of options on the table. He could spend another year with the Flyers as he is only 16 years old, he could move to St. Stephen and perform in the Maritime Junior League and complete Grade 12 in that town or he could decide to step back and graduate from his Tantramar Regional High School.
The Aces chose Conrad first as they had the initial choice in the first round being an entirely new club. They will be able to stock their lineup by choosing as many as two players from each of the remaining teams in the league. Each team must submit a list of their protected players and the Aces may go from that point.
The Sackville athlete was fourth in scoring in the powerful NB-PEI midget circuit with 48 points in just 35 games for an average of 1.3 points a game and officials of his new team believe he can play a significant role next season as they open against some powerhouses like Dieppe Commandos, Woodstock Slammers and Amherst Ramblers.
Normally, Conrad would have been claimed by Dieppe but a recent decision took Sackville out of their restricted area and so other teams took advantage of some of the better Flyer players and drafted them early.
“I wasn’t trying to raid anyone’s garden,” said Aces head coach Jamie McKinley, “but for me he was the number one player available.”
The Aces chose 14 players, including seven from New Brunswick with others from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland-Labrador.
McKinley coached Conrad last year in the QMJHL U15 Excellence Challenge where he saw first hand the number of elements in his game.
“I was really impressed by his all around game, his all around attitude and all-around commitment – it was a no brainer.”
Conrad was passed over in the last two Quebec League drafts, which surprised McKinley, who says he can play during all situations – power play, penalty kill, even strength and has a high hockey IQ.
Conrad says he is confident he can crack the Aces’ lineup and can compete on a par with most of those in the Maritime circuit. But he feels he must weigh his options, thinking that another year of midget hockey might prove beneficial. In that way he could continue his education along with friends he has made over the years at Tantramar. If he decides to live in St. Stephen he would be billeted with a family but he knows nothing more than that until he meets with team officials in the next couple of weeks.
The scoring specialist spent one season in AAA bantam in Moncton has two years of midget play with the Flyers. His one regret is their loss to Saint John for the league championship earlier this year but he had some good personal statistics. Over the season he had 26 goals and 20 assists and led the Flyers in the playoffs.
The draft of Conrad brings to three the number of Flyers taken in this way. Earlier, Julian Galloway, goalie, was picked by Rimousie while Kyle Ward was the choice of the Saint Johnb Seadogs, both of the Q League.
“I really expected them to be early picks,” says Conrad. “Galloway is an awesome goalie and Ward knows how to work the corners and is extremely tough to stop.”
While coach McKinley says Conrad has not been guaranteed a spot on the roster he is confident he has the tools to get it done. But he notes that the young man is still 16 and still has plenty of time to improve on his overall game.
All three of the local players chosen to move up received their minor experience in Sackville, which indicates some good things are happening and should provide incentive for others who are interested in pursuing hockey as a career.