Brayden Rose has played himself off the bubble and possibly into an overage position next season.
In doing so the 19-year-old Richmond Hill native has provided the Owen Sound Attack with a complication they weren’t expecting, but one that they’re more than happy to have.
“The coaches have asked me to play a real simple game and that’s what I’ve done,” Rose said in an interview prior to Owen Sound’s 3-0 shutout of the Barrie Colts on Wednesday in Ontario Hockey League action. “It’s working out really well.”
Rose was on the bubble coming into training camp in August.
Owen Sound had five returning defenceman plus first-round pick Jacob Middleton. Then the Attacked traded for overager Nathan Chiarlitti and kept 17-year-old rookie Alex Annecchiaricco.
That gave Owen Sound eight blue-liners and most observers felt that put Rose on the outside looking in.
“I was a little nervous when I saw all of the defencemen we had, but I just kept working hard and tried to get better,” said Rose.
And a funny thing happened.
Rose kept playing better and better, turning into a top shutdown defenceman.
And he began eating up ice time that was expected to go to sophomore Jake Dotchin and Middleton.
Both those players were traded at the deadline this month as Owen Sound added power-play specialist Cody Ceci.
“Brayden has grown so much on and off the ice,” coach Greg Ireland said.
“He’s much more mature and focused in his approach and preparation and I think it shows in his game. He’s soaking up what (assistant coach) Drew (Bannister) is feeding him and he’s working to get better all of the time. That gives us a real steady hand back there.”
It’s a hand that could be back next season, which didn’t seem likely to start this year.
“I’d love to be back for an overage year here,” said Rose. “Right now I’m just trying to push the young guys to play smart and improve. And the older guys too.”
Ireland said he’d be more than happy to see Rose play his way into an overage position.
“It’s better to keep a guy from within than bring in someone from another organization, especially going from 19 to 20 (years of age),” said Ireland.
“They understand you as a coach and what we’re all about. They’re almost like second assistants breaching the system and the structure.”
Gemel Smith, Steven Janes and Cameron Brace scored for the Attack (30-12-1-3, second in the Midwest Division).
“It was a very workmanlike win with good efforts by everyone,” said Ireland.
“We were committed to the backcheck and to staying out of the penalty box. We blocked some shots and just stayed with our structure.”
Owen Sound goalie Jordan Binnington made 25 saves for his second consecutive shutout and third in four games.
Mathias Niederberger stopped 25 shots for the Colts (30-14-0-2, first in the Central).
Owen Sound will now play Guelph in a home-and-home series beginning Friday in the Royal City. The Storm visit Owen Sound on Saturday. Game time at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre is 7:30 p.m.
SLAPSHOTS: Fans can play road hockey with the Owen Sound Attack in an open game on Sunday at Boston Pizza as part of a Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser to kick off Pink in the Rink. It runs from noon until 2 p.m.
Participants are asked to bring their own sticks. Balls and nets will be provided.
Pink in the Rink is set for Feb. 2 when Owen Sound plays host to London.