By: Justin Dunk
If Adam Craievich isn’t at the rink you can almost be sure his head is buried in a textbook.
Guelph’s second-year forward puts just as much focus into improving as a hockey player as he does towards learning and posting impressive marks in the classroom. Craievich’s strong time management skills allowed him to carry a 90-plus average during his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League last year.
“He’s naturally smart, but incredibly disciplined and he puts in an inordinate amount of time on his studies,” Storm general manager Mike Kelly said.
“I was raised by my parents to give your best in everything and they would never accept average marks – 70’s and 80’s. They really set the bar high for me and I just want it for myself now,” Craievich said.
For his efforts Craievich earned the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award given to the Top Academic High School Player in the OHL each year. It was the first time a member of the Storm received the honour since its inception in 2005.
“He meets all of his deadlines and goes over and above. He’s not trying to get by, he wants to excel and be one of the top academic players in the Canadian Hockey League, if not the top,” Kelly said. “He competes hard for that. Regardless of where his hockey career goes this is going to be a very successful young man.”
A grade 10 year spent at Appleby College in Oakville, Ontario helped Craievich prepare for balancing academics and hockey in the OHL.
“I had school from 8am to 4pm and I was playing on two hockey teams,” Craievich explained. “I really had to manage my time, get my homework done and get ready for games in my OHL draft year.”
“Coaches don’t want you to show up late to the rink and teachers don’t want your assignments handed in late, so it’s the same thing for me personally.”
Craievich would like to win the Ivan Tennant Award again and he’s even taking aim at a higher honour, the Bobby Smith Trophy presented to the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year.
No. 13’s favourite subjects are math and business, partly due to the fact his father owns a financial insurance company. Craievich likes dealing with numbers, money and investments. So it appears the 17-year-old has a clear fallback plan.
“You never know what can happen one shift, one wrong hit and your career is over. I wanted to make sure that I had that education security that the OHL provides,” Craievich said.
Just as much as Craievich pushes for the best scores in the classroom, he is literally striding on the ice to improve. He has been working closely with skating coach Barb Underhill ever since he arrived in Guelph.
“Adam’s skating was a little bit of a concern among scouts in his OHL draft year. All of the scouts – not just ours,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a work in progress for the next five or six years until he’s a National Hockey League player.”
Craievich and Underhill began with the basics, focusing on how to skate properly. He learned proper mechanics and how to use the right muscles. Then, as he progressed, Craievich focused on advanced movements: edges, quick starts, turns and stride lengthening.
“She changed the whole way I skate. I went from probably one of the worst skaters in the province to being able to keep up in this league,” Craievich said.
“It’s probably 150 times better than it was compared to when I first came in. I got caught a lot when I skated up the ice, I couldn’t really make plays against the defencemen in the corners because they were a lot faster than me and my balance wasn’t great. Now I can keep up to the play and thanks to Barb I can get to where I need to go and be open for the puck.”
Craievich, one of the top natural goal scorers coming out in his OHL draft class, believes his refined skating mechanics will boost his totals on the stats sheet. Similar to the way Craievich’s keep-after-it study habits have produced notable numbers at school.