Just drafted on Saturday by the New York Rangers, Shane McColgan is already getting a taste of the Big Apple.
On Sunday, the Kelowna Rockets’ forward flew to New York where the Rangers will spend the rest of the week evaluating and getting to know their top new prospects.
The Rangers chose the 5-foot-9, 165-pound forward from Manhattan Beach, Calif. in the fifth round, 134th overall in Saturday’s NHL entry draft.
Minutes after getting off the ice from his first practice with the Rangers Monday, McColgan was beginning to absorb the latest turn of events in his hockey career.
“Being on the ice is tough at this time of the year but it’s pretty cool to be here,” said McColgan. “Seeing Mark Messier here, and to know guys like Gretzky and Jagr have worn the Rangers jersey, it’s really an honour to be here. There’s a lot of history here.”
McColgan watched the draft on Saturday with his family and friends at his dad’s restaurant in Manhattan Beach.
“When we saw my name pop up, we were all pretty excited,” McColgan said. “It’s a moment I’ve waited for for a long time. It was a pretty good day for me.”
McColgan, 18, makes up for his relative lack of size by playing with speed, skill and a feisty edge to his game. He led the Rockets in scoring last season with 21 goals and 66 points in 67 games, and was also the club’s top playoff performer with 19 points in 10 games.
McColgan once had aspirations of being a first-round NHL pick, but steadily slipped in the rankings as his major junior career progressed.
Still, McColgan is satsified with the path he now finds himself on.
“I’ve put that behind me now and I’ve told many people that whether you’re drafted in the first round or the seventh, you still have to prove yourself,” he said. “At the end of the day you still have to make the team and that’s my mindset going forward, to work hard so I can be here one day. I’m excited about it.”
McColgan is one of three California-born players who played with the Rockets last season.
The others are forward Mitchell Callahan—a Detroit Red Wings draft pick—from Whittier, Calif., and goaltender Adam Brown who hails from Yorba Linda.
McColgan was the only Kelowna player selected in the 2011 draft.
He is expected to return to the Rockets in 2011-12 for at least one more WHL season.
In other news, the Canadian Hockey League’s import draft is set for Wednesday.
The Rockets will choose 45th overall.
• Rockets pre-season schedule
The Kelowna Rockets will play six exhibition games prior to the start or the 2011-12 Western Hockey League season.
The WHL released its pre-season schedule and the Rockets will play three B.C. division rivals to prepare for the 2011-12 campaign.
Kelowna opens the pre-season Sept. 2 when the Rockets host the Vancouver Giants. The next night Kelowna fans will get their first look at the Victoria Royals after the franchise moved from Chilliwack as Victoria will visit Kelowna Sept. 3
Kelowna will then play a home-and-home series with Kamloops as the Rockets will be in Kamloops on Sept. 9 before the two teams play at Prospera Place on Sept. 10.
The Rockets close the pre-season the following weekend in Victoria on Sept. 16 before playing the Vancouver Giants in Ladner on Sept. 17.
The WHL will announce its regular season schedule on June 29.