Kayle Doetzel’s draft season started out as a dream.
And while it hasn’t hit nightmare status just yet, the Red Deer Rebels defenseman has certainly hit a snag.
After starting the summer as a member of Canada’s gold medal entry at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in August, Doetzel now finds himself watching his Rebel teammates from the press box after suffering a broken jaw.
The Rosetown, SK product, who serves as an assistant captain with Red Deer, suffered the injury against the Saskatoon Blades in just his seventh game of the season. It’s an injury that will sideline the six-foot-three, 191-pound defenseman until early December.
When he does return to the ice, he’ll have a shortened season to impress scouts from 30 National Hockey League teams. It’s a pressure Doetzel isn’t unfamiliar with.
The Rebels have already made him a highly-touted draft pick, selecting Doetzel in the first round of the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.
And he does have a bit of talent pushing him in the right direction too, according to Future Considerations WHL scout Zenon Herasymiuk.
“His best asset is his physical game. He throws the weight around frequently and with a lot of success,” Herasymiuk said. “He doesn’t throw big open ice checks like his teammate Mathew Dumba, but he smothers oppponents in the corners with his size and strength.”
Does it feel any different playing in your draft year?
“There’s pressure. You want to get drafted but it’s not in my head at all. I’m just going to play my game and not worry about the draft.”
Is there any added pressure in playing in front of scouts, game in, game out?
“I don’t even think about it at all. It’s in the back of your head but you try not to think about it at all.”
How much did your experience at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial help prepare you for the season?
“Probably just confidence. Playing with a lot of good players so I tried taking some things from them. It just built my confidence up playing with them.”
How did you spend your offseason and what areas did you focus on to try to improve for this season?
“Trained harder this year. More skating this year. I think everyone always wants to improve everywhere.”
With files from Zenon Herasymiuk