Monday, December 15, 2008

Oiler Corbin Knight leaves rejection in past

Corbin Knight has grown into a coveted junior hockey prospect.

A disappointment, at the time, turned into one of the best things that could have happened to Corban Knight.

At age 14 and playing 'AA' bantam hockey with the Nanton-based Foothills Bisons, the High River product was passed over during his Western Hockey League draft year.

But four years later, carrying the potential to ink an NCAA scholarship and be drafted to the National Hockey League, the Okotoks Oilers leading scorer couldn't be happier.

"Everything's worked out fine," said Knight, 18,who has 21 goals and 35 points in 38 Alberta Junior Hockey League games. "I look back on it and it would have been a cool experience.

"When I was in bantam, you always think the Calgary Hitmen are pretty big and when you go and watch them, you think that is the only way into the NHL. But as time went on, you realize the AJHL is a great feeder program."

After playing a handful of games for the Oilers during last year's AJHL playoff run, Knight made the full-time jump from the midget 'AAA'Strathmore-based UFA Bisons in the fall.

Depending on how the year pans out, he'll decided whether he wants to head south to school--he's currently looking into the University of North Dakota and University of Massachusetts--or stay with the Oilers.

"It's obviously a big year," said Knight. It's my draft year and my big goal is to get an NCAA scholarship, those are two big things on my mind.

"I worked really hard in the summer to get where I am now. I think with all that, I was ready to make the step to the AJ. As long as I stay focused on the team and short-term goals, the long-term goals will fall into place."

Now standing six-feet tall and weighing in at 185-pounds, he could go in the third to fifth round of the upcoming NHL entry draft along with fellow Okotoks Oiler, Rodger Craig, according to the fall's preliminary NHL Central Scouting report.

"He's going to be a strong kid when he's done, he's still growing,"said Oilers head coach Dan MacDonald. "He'll end up to be six-one and about 195-pounds, I suspect, in a year or two."

And as for the rest of the Oilers, there is a good explanation to why they're leading the AJHL's South Division.

Aside from Knight's contributions, Okotoks have four lines that could score on any given night while their defence adds depth and has no trouble stepping up either.

Rounded out by stellar performances from rookie goaltenders Sean Cahill and Steve Papciak, the team was 25-12-1--and 9-1 in their last 10 games--going into this weekend's action.

Not too bad for a bunch of rookies.

"We have 15 new players to the league this year," said MacDonald. "We really have players who are stepping forward and making progress, especially in this last month.

"It takes about six weeks to get adjusted to the league and now they're starting to take off."

Oilers captain Justin Daigle, an offensive defenceman, has been leading from the blueline and racked up five goals and 22 points before the weekend.

By Kristen Odland
Calgary Herald

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