Thursday, 29 October 2015

Player Profiles: Austin Pratt

Every now and then throughout the season, I will be writing a short blog about a player on the Rebels, he could be a rookie, an import, or just someone who I've maybe noticed hasn't gotten a lot of coverage in the WHL media.

Today's blog will be about Red Deer Rebels rookie forward Austin Pratt. He was drafted by the team in the 4th round of the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft. Before he was drafted into the WHL, there were many folks who considered Pratt to be a 1st or 2nd round talent but the fact he was from Lakeville, Minnesota meant he may choose the NCAA route. It would be up to the coaches and staff of the Rebels to convince him that Red Deer was the premier destination for his development.

Austin Pratt Shattuck St. Mary's
A 30 mile drive from home would take Austin to the beginning of his 2017 NHL Draft aspirations. Shattuck-St.Mary's hockey program has put forward some top NHL talent including Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby. Austin spent 2 seasons with the program, his first year with the Bantam tier 1 team as a 14 year old. He registered 30 goals and 43 assists in 65 games with the team. In his midget (U16) season he played in 55 games, potting 20 goals and adding 32 helpers. His Midget team won the national championship last year.

After showcasing his skills with SSM, Austin was being courted by NCAA teams and was considered a top 2018 college class prospect. He was also being looked at to be a top draft pick in the 2014 USHL draft. Leaving these options and selecting the Canadian Hockey League (more exactly the WHL) would mean foregoing his amateur status and the ability to play in the NCAA. He then signed with the Rebels on April 10, 2015.

Austin made a good showing in the preseason, with 4 goals and an assist. He also had a really good training camp with the team. This earned him a spot on the opening day roster as a 16 year old. He has been playing mostly 4th line minutes, which has seen him with line mates such as Jeff de Wit, Reese Johnson, Lane Pederson and Brandon Hagel. Austin has 2 goals and 2 assists in 12 games and is a very responsible +3. He scored his first regular season WHL goal on October 3rd against the Kelowna Rockets. Austin doesn't back down from the tough spots or opponents, he has shown a willingness to mix it up in front of the net as well as dig for loose pucks in the corners. He is also a good skater, as he has showcased when on the ice with some of Red Deer's big guns like Conner Bleackley and Grayson Pawlenchuk.

Austin Pratt - Red Deer Rebels
What does the future hold for Austin? Will he be similar to a Shane McColgan or a Brian Williams, 16 year old american born players who have carved their own path through the WHL? Or will he be another player that doesn't live up to the hype in the WHL? One thing that is for sure, he has already won the hearts of many fans here in Red Deer as he competes every second he is one the ice. I am quite certain he will carve a spot in Rebel lore for years to come and will succeed with every opportunity that Brent Sutter gives him to excel. Give the future superstar a follow on Twitter @AJPratt14

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