Brandon, MB. (Courtesy of Rob Henderson, The Brandon Sun) -- As a fifth-round pick from this year’s Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, Jesse Gabrielle kept a relatively low profile going into the Brandon Wheat Kings’ training camp.
Based on his performance, he’ll attract a lot more attention next time around.
A native of Moosomin, Sask., who now lives in Minnesota, the 5-foot-10, 187-pound left-winger was productive throughout camp, wrapping it up with a goal and an assist in Sunday’s intrasquad game at Westman Place before being reassigned later that evening. He even added a fight with fellow 15-year-old Tanner Browne on Saturday for good measure.
"It was a great experience," said Gabrielle, who isn’t old enough to play regularly in the WHL until next season. "… Coming into the main camp and having Ryan Pulock and the other guys here, I don’t know how to express it, it’s just really exciting. It would be really fun to come play with these guys and put on the jersey regularly."
Gabrielle said he caught the bug to play in the WHL as a youngster while coming to Brandon for tournaments and watching the Wheat Kings play. He plans to return to Minnesota this fall to play high school hockey for the Eagan Wildcats and after their season ends he hopes to see some action with the Junior A Topeka Roadrunners of the North American Hockey League, or perhaps get a call-up from the Wheat Kings.
In the meantime, he said the past week was all about learning what he can do to become a full-time Wheat King next season.
"The calibre of players here, it’s outstanding," said Gabrielle, who was one of only three 15-year-olds — along with defencemen Mark Taraschuk and Matt Matsuba — to play in Sunday’s intrasquad game. "I come in here next year and I’m going to know how to play and what to change in my game and what to keep, to move forward. But I know a lot of these guys, some of the veterans, were giving me tips on what to do, what to do in the corners, how to position myself with certain guys. It was really helpful."
PASSING GRADES: Wheat Kings general manager Kelly McCrimmon said he was pleased with the club’s performance on the whole during camp.
"It was long for the first-year players, with rookie camp starting on Wednesday, but I really was impressed with the group of (1995- and 1996-born) forwards," he said. "We expected them to come in and make a good impression and they did. I thought Colton Waltz on defence was real good in the ’95 age group as a first-year player. The veterans, I thought, did some good things. The goaltending was solid throughout camp. Lots of positives to take out of camp as we begin the work to get our team ready for pre-season."
McCrimmon said he was also impressed with the performance of the veterans during fitness testing, noting that Pulock, Alessio Bertaggia, Tyler Yaworski, Corbin Boes and Tyrel Seaman all fared particularly well.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 4, 2012