Young Raider Morrissey in fine form on, office
Calgarian has his routine down pat
By Kristen Odland, Calgary Herald
November 19, 2011
Prince Albert at Calgary (5-16-1-1) (9-9-1-1) 7 p.m., Saddledome
At 16 years old, Josh Morrissey already has the routine of the Western Hockey League down to a science.
Wake up, study, hit the ice, sleep, hit the bus, repeat.
In fact, the hardest part for the defenceman in his first full year with the Prince Albert Raiders is the off-ice transition. The on-ice stuff has been the easy part.
"In all honesty, off the ice is one of the bigger differences," said the Calgarian, whose club plays the Calgary Hitmen tonight at 7 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. "Just mentally getting yourself ready mentally every night and a 72-game schedule, you've really got to be ready every day, get your rest and eat properly.
"They do a great job here with helping us with our schedules . . . school is really important to myself and my family, so you just have to make use of your time and in class.
"It's pretty black and white and there's always time to study . . . long nights on the bus, there isn't a whole lot to do. So far, it's been going well."
Fortunately for Morrissey, he's been receiving ample time to prove himself, too.
Drafted sixth overall in 2010, he suited up for five contests last winter before returning to the midget 'AAA' Calgary Royals.
This year, Morrissey is sticking around for the full campaign. The only 1995-born player on the Raiders roster has notched three goals, five assists and is a plus-seven while seeing quality minutes.
"I've been fortunate enough that my coaches have trust in me to play me a lot and play to my strengths," said the six-foot, 184-pound smoothskating defenceman. "So far, this year, I've been playing some time on the power play in some key situations. I have a really good relationship with the coaching staff. We meet every few games to talk about my progress.
"They've been really good with helping me feel comfortable enough to perform well. When you're speaking of the strength, speed and size, it's definitely a lot different from guys my own age."
After ripping it up with the Royals - netting 17 goals and 21 assists during the 2010-11 season - Morrissey spent the summer skating out of Crash Conditioning surrounded by Calgary-based pros like Mike Green, Jordan Eberle, Zach Boychuck, Dana Tyrell and Thomas Hickey. Training in that type of environment helped Morrissey's development and fuelled his fire.
"Just being able to see those guys and their decision-making," he said. "Just seeing how the pro game is, I've really learned a lot. For myself, obviously inspiring to be like them when I'm older, it's cool to see them across the room."
Now, he's back home - the final stop of the Raiders fivegame road trip.
"I'm excited," Morrissey said, who played once at the Dome last year as a 15-year-old callup. "I had a taste, but I didn't play a whole lot. It's going to be fun. It's my first real time playing there. All my family will be there and it's been awhile since I've been home.
"I'm excited to get it underway. I'm sure I'll have a lot of family and friends."
Heading into Friday's clash against the Edmonton Oil Kings, the Raiders were only 1-9 in their past 10 games - and scraping the bottom of the WHL with a 5-16-1-1 record.
The Hitmen (9-9-1-1) are coming off last Sunday's 6-2 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Sunday's clash against the Saskatoon Blades (2 p.m.) ends a four-game homestead.
FOLLOW ON TWITTER/ KRISTENODLANDCH
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald