While driving tonight I caught part of the Vancouver Giants game on the radio. They were playing the Brandon Wheat Kings on the road, and it was Dalton Thrower's first game of the season. True to reports, he was named Captain of the team and tallied a goal and an assist in a 4-3 loss to the home team. For his troubles, he was named the second star of the game.
Now it's hard to make an accurate impression of a player's performance by just relying on radio play-by-play, but the encouraging aspect we can take from it is that Dalton was used heavily by Coach Don Hay, being on the first pairing with Calgary Flames draft pick Brett Kulak, and playing on the first wave of both powerplays and penalty kills. Further, he was regularly praised by the broadcast team for his smart offensive zone plays, his hard shot, and his generalship, as well as his hard, effective work in the defensive zone.
His goal came very soon after the faceoff on a powerplay. As described by the play-by-play call, he got the puck, faked a slapper, deked around a would-be shot-blocker and sent in a soft wrister at the goalie while he was screened, and it found the back of the net.
On the defensive side, he was regularly pointed out as the reason the score was being kept close, and why the Giants were surviving the powerplay opportunities by the Wheat Kings. He was singled out on a couple of opportunities for his positioning, anticipating plays and closing the distance with opposition shooters before they could get the puck away.
So at first glance, it appears that our plan is working. Dalton will get tonnes of icetime and responsibility in Vancouver, will get a chance to prove himself and regain some of his confidence he may have lost in Saskatoon last season. If he seizes this opportunity and leads his team as he did tonight, he should get the Entry Level Contract he's been seeking, and turn pro next season, joining a strong group of prospects in Hamilton and taking the next step in his career path.