Fronts freshman in it for the long haul
The shaving cream pie in the face for Emmett Gordon at a Kingston Frontenacs practice Wednesday was kind of a double celebration for the rookie defenceman.
Not only was it a birthday gag set up and delivered by captain Stephen Desrocher, but it was also a sign to Gordon that, indeed, he was now with the Frontenacs for the long haul.
"For sure it is a huge jump. There is a great group of guys here so that makes it a lot easier," Gordon said.
"The coaching staff and players help me and teach me, so that's definitely made the transition a lot easier."
It's a transition that came at mid-season for the six-foot, 180-pound Toronto native. Gordon was the first defenceman (fifth round, 90th overall) Kingston selected in the Ontario Hockey League draft last April. He played in the Frontenacs' first two games of the season before being assigned to the Kingston Voyageurs of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Gordon, who turned 17 on Tuesday, played 29 games for the Vees, scoring twice and picking up eight points.
With the Frontenacs going with seven defenceman, Gordon has dressed for six games since rejoining the Frontenacs on Dec. 30.
The highlight for Gordon came in last Saturday's game against Mississauga.
With Jacob Paquette and Eemeli Rasanen away at the Canadian Hockey League prospects weekend, Gordon not only was in the lineup but saw regular minutes as the team's fifth defenceman.
"It was a great experience. It was kind of my first OHL game where I got a lot of playing time," said Gordon about The Tragically Hip tribute game played before a gathering of 5,410 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.
"That was a really exciting experience especially with all the fans. The atmosphere was great."
Head coach Paul McFarland said Gordon did well in taking a much bigger role in Saturday's game.
"I give him a lot of credit for the way he played Saturday night. We almost threw him into the fire there and he played close to 19 minutes," McFarland said.
"That can only give him more confidence. Just the idea of being around our group, practising every day and obviously getting into games is just going to make him better for next year."
Gordon said it is definitely a learning process.
"I'm not going to get in [all the games], but I'm just working hard in practice and trying to get that opportunity to play in the game is my goal for right now," Gordon said.
"I think it has taken a bit of time [for Gordon] since coming up here full time to get used to the practices and the detail that is involved in playing for us," McFarland said.
"It is a hard league for any young defenceman. I think he has done a good job of handling that and he will continue to get better for us moving forward."
Gordon said he is learning the ropes by watching the team's veterans on defence -- Desrocher, Nathan Billitier and Liam Murray -- and the 17-year-olds -- Paquette, Rasanen and Jakob Brahaney.
"You try to take what they have learned with their experience and try to use that in your game," said Gordon, who says he is a defensive defenceman.
"I like to join in the play at times, add some offence when I can, but I would say my strongest suit would be my defensive game," he said.
"I think I'm doing pretty well, but there is still a lot to learn, a lot to develop as well."
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