It's been a while since I've posted anything on this blog. Considering the Pats website gets most of my attention and you certainly don't need me reblogging my own press releases, this blog is generally pretty quiet. Excuses, excuses, I know. Over the next little bit, I'll be posting some of my stories from the year. Most of these will focus on Pats Alumni as I've been writing for the Digital Gameday Magazine. First up is the latest feature on Jordan Weal. Enjoy!
Leading up to his WHL career, Jordan Weal had plenty of doubters that the smallish forward could excel at the Major Junior level. His Midget-AAA stats were impressive and there was zero question of the skill the North Vancouver, B.C. product possessed, but his slight frame raised eyebrows. When he exploded onto the WHL scene with 70 points in 65 games, Weal didn’t raise eyebrows… he brought people out of their seats. If Weal hadn’t advanced to the pro-ranks in his 20-year old season, he would have had a very real shot at breaking Dale Derkatch’s seemingly impossible mark of 491 points (though Derkatch reached his total in only 204 games).
As it happened, Weal would finish his Pats career with 282 games played and 385 points leaving him fourth on the Regina Pats’ all-time scoring list. His first year in the AHL playing for the Los Angeles Kings affiliate Manchester Monarchs was hardly a normal season with the NHL lockout wreaking havoc with minor league rosters.
“Playing in Regina I got to play every game, I never really got sat out or anything. It was my first kind of experience with (being a healthy scratch),” explained Weal. “There were a couple spans where I wasn’t playing games for a couple weeks in a row because there were just so many guys. It was tough, it was definitely an adjustment, but I think I definitely learned a lot from it.”
Midway through the Monarchs’ season, the NHL lockout lifted and Weal got his shot to play more minutes with the club. His game began to click and Weal started to take on more of the scoring role he was known for with the Pats. At the end of January 2013, Weal had ten points on the season. In February, he doubled his total to 20 and finished the year with 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 63 games.
“I got a chance to play a lot more than I was at the beginning and it started to come a little easier to me. The game was slowing down and plays were happening more and I think that’s one of the major things that happened and it’s carrying through this year as well.”
With a season in the AHL under his belt, Weal took the next step with the Monarchs in the 2013-14 Regular Season. As of March 11th, Weal has blown past his totals from last season. In the same number of games played, Weal already has 54 points (16G, 38A) and sits eighth in AHL scoring. The Monarchs are enjoying an equally strong season with a six point lead atop the league standings.
“It’s been a lot of fun. You know when you’re on a winning team that’s filled with a lot of young talent it’s a good time. Every day you go to the rink the guys are excited to be there and energized; it’s just a good mix right now. We’re working hard and it’s paying off right now.”
As a third round pick of the Los Angeles Kings, Weal is part of an organization that seems to have limitless depth in pretty much every area. For Jordan it’s exciting to be part of a program that focuses on drafting and developing its players.
“Their drafting the last three or four years has been pretty phenomenal. In every age group they have two or three guys that are really good quality prospects and that’s a credit to them and it’s definitely showing because some of those guys have moved up and are on the Kings now.”
Despite being a year removed from the WHL and in the thick of his own battle for playoff standings, Weal is still able to keep tabs on his former team in Regina and their battle for the East Division lead.
“It’s awesome. They’ve done a really good job of drafting these last couple of years and it’s starting to pay off. Malcolm and Josh are great coaches so all those players are in good hands. Those guys, I think they’re going to do well. They have a lot of skill, a lot of talent and it’s exciting to see.”
The Pats certainly hope they have another Jordan Weal amongst those recent draft picks, but what the scoring dynamo brought to the Pats during his time in Regina will be difficult to replace. Now we get to watch as Weal continues to delight fans in the AHL and soon, hopefully bringing fans out of their seats in the National Hockey League.