By RYAN MCCRACKEN on March 30, 2021.
It only took Reid Andresen 52 minutes to start turning heads.
The 15-year-old Medicine Hat Tigers defenceman jumped on the rush midway through the third period of Friday’s 3-0 victory and set up Lukas Svejkovsky to round out the scoring for the first point of his career in his Western Hockey League debut.
“The puck was just kind of laying on the red line, so I just picked up some speed,” Andresen said in Friday’s post-game Zoom conference with media. “I saw low-glove was open so I kind of just shot it and it hit the bottom of his glove. Svejkovsky picked it up and got the rebound, a nice play by him.”
The WHL has allowed first-round 2020 bantam draft picks to join up with their major junior squads a year early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Andresen has been making the most of the rare opportunity usually reserved for players with exceptional status.
“I think when you watch him, his composure with the puck for a 15-year-old is pretty outstanding,” said Tigers assistant coach Joe Frazer. “He’s not the biggest guy so he’s not going in there trying to wrestle with bigger guys, he’s taking away the hands, he’s going stick-on-puck. He’s a real smart kid. It was really exciting to see him get that assist, jumping up in the rush, it was a great game by him.”
The 5-foot-8, 146-pound Saskatoon product made a name for himself as an offensively-minded blueliner with his hometown U15 AA Generals last season – racking up 13 goals and 38 assists in just 31 games. It didn’t take long for that mindset to make impact in Medicine Hat.
“You don’t see many 15-year-olds coming in and making an impact like that in their first game,” said Svejkovsky. “It just shows what kind of player he is and what kind of player he can be for us in the future. I thought it was a really good play by him, a good play getting the puck to the net. It showed confidence.”
Andresen says some of that confidence has come through an easily found sense of camaraderie with his new Tabby teammates.
“Since the first day I felt super welcomed here,” he said. “Practising with them every day has boosted my confidence, to play with such good players. It just means a lot how good they are to me.”
Fellow first-round bantam draft pick Garin Bjorklund – who backed the Tigers to a shutout Friday – says Andresen has been a welcome addition to the team, both on the ice and around the arena.
“Ever since the first day he walked in, that kid’s a stud. I’m just happy to have him around,” said Bjorklund. “I can already tell he’s learning lots and his game has already elevated from the first day. It just shows his confidence and what kind of player he’s going to be â€¦ He’s definitely going to be a high-end player for us in the future.”
The Tigers are back at Co-op Place on Friday to open a three-game set against the Calgary Hitmen.