In Brent Sutter’s eyes, Cole Chorney has a headstart on what should be a successful WHL career.
“He’s a young guy finding his way in this league and finding out what it’s all about,” the Red Deer Rebels general manager/head coach said Thursday, in reference to the 17-year-old rookie forward.
“The thing about Cole is he plays hard, he’s a character kid. He plays and he competes and that’s what you want to see from a young player — that’s the starting point of it all. Like all of our younger players, he has lots to learn, but there’s lots there to work with.”
Chorney is like most wide-eyed WHL rookies — he’s just glad to be playing at a high level.
“It’s been great here, I’ve really enjoyed it,” said the Beaumont native.
“It’s been a bit of an adjustment from midget, for sure . . . playing at this speed and with this intensity. But I think I’m doing well adjusting to it and it’s been great.”
Besides his work ethic, Sutter likes Chorney’s hockey sense and his willingness to correct errors.
“He’s a smart player and he knows when he makes a mistake,” said the Rebels boss.
“When the coaches talk to him and run through it with him on video he understands what happened. He gets it quickly.”
Chorney does pride himself on his ability to play efficiently in all three zones, especially his own.
“I think I’m doing well positionally down low in the defensive zone,” said the six-foot, 176-pound centre, “but I do need to gain some strength. It’s a faster league and you have to be on your game all the time, for sure.”
Chorney has yet to accumulate his first WHL regular-season point.
“It will be nice to get that first goal and get the monkey off the back,” he said.
Chorney is confident that the points will come in time and his track record would seem to indicate that will indeed be the case. He had 36 points (16-20) in 33 games with the major bantam Leduc Oil Kings in 2010-11, 50 (26-24) the following season with the Leduc minor midget AAA squad and 18 goals and 29 points in 33 games with the midget AAA Edmonton Maple Leafs last winter.
He also suited up with the Spruce Grove Saints of the AJHL last season and considered playing junior A full time this winter.
“Yeah, I was thinking that way a little bit, but then I came in here and did fairly well in training camp and thought this was a good route to take, so I signed,” said Chorney, who sat out for a stretch due to illness and has appeared in only six games this season.
l Forward Cory Millette returns to Red Deer for the first time tonight since being dealt to the Blades two weeks ago.
“Things just didn’t work out there,” Millette told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “I hope I can have a really good game and show that they were wrong by trading me and not really giving me that chance I needed.”
Millette has two goals and an assist in six games with the Blades and is expected to skate with new Blade Chase Clayton (acquired Sunday from Calgary) and Nick Zajac tonight.
Meanwhile, veteran Saskatoon winger Brett Stovin is anxious to go up against former linemate Lukas Sutter, who was traded to Red Deer in June.
“It’s definitely going to be exciting,” said Stovin.
“Playing with the guy and knowing him so well, being good friends with him, it’s definitely different seeing him in a different uniform.”
The fact that Sutter is now a foe won’t take away any respect Stovin harbours for his friend.
“Last year was my first year playing on the penalty kill and that’s something I take pride in. Lukas is the reason for that,” he said.
“He was kind of my mentor as a penalty kill partner last year. That’s definitely the biggest thing I look up to about him. It’s something I’m still learning and trying to teach the young guys now.”