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Since the first time he laced on the blades, Blake Siebenaler could out-skate everyone on the ice. This weekend, he will start his skate into the National Hockey League.
Siebenaler, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman, is projected as a possible third- or fourth-round pick in the NHL draft which starts Friday in Philadelphia. The 18-year-old is ranked No. 71 on The Red Line Report, an independent scouting review and was ranked No. 55 in April by the NHL Central Scouting Service.
That's amazing considering the former Carroll High School student switched from forward three years ago when his Bantam team ran out of defensemen during a weekend tournament. He's also played only one year in the Ontario Hockey League.
``The thing that sets him apart is his skating,'' said former Komet Colin Chaulk who coached Siebenaler for Hockey House. ``All the Siebenalers can skate really well, and you're always looking for a good defenseman who can move. Equally as important is passing, and Blake is somebody who can hold the puck and still make a good move. That probably comes from playing forward and having that offensive ability.''
Since he was very young, Siebenaler worked with Chaulk, Guy Dupuis, Colin Chin, Troy Neumeier and various other Komets. He also left Fort Wayne at age 16 to move to Cleveland and then Chelsea, Mich., and finally last year to St. Catharine's, Ontario.
He scored six goals and 30 points in 68 games with 24 penalty minutes and a minus-16 rating playing for the OHL's Niagara IceDogs. The numbers are a little deceptive considering he was making a major move up in leagues, and he put up the offensive numbers playing on the team's second-unit power play. He also improved his plus-minus in the season's second half.
``Siebenaler is an offensive-minded defender who makes excellent reads in the offensive zone and dishes crisp passes,'' the website EliteProspects.com said in an evaluation. ``He skates beautifully with the puck and controls the point well on the power play. He is learning to be more consistent in his defensive game.''
He's also still growing physically but already has a grown-up attitude. Siebenaler is so humble he'd probably prefer to skip the draft, but that would disappoint family members making the trip with him to Philadelphia.
``I try not to think about it too much,'' he said. ``The draft is always in the back of your mind, and anyone who says they don't think about it or let it get on your back is lying. I try to keep it off my mind. I'm just waiting for the day to come and whoever takes and wherever they take me, I'll be pretty happy and satisfied.
``I don't like talking a big game,'' he said. ``I just try and do what I do and try and be a good person, and good things happen off that.''