By Matt Harris, CW@67 Guelph Storm head coach Scott Walker is familiar with being a gritty hockey player. It’s how he made it to the National Hockey League and how he stuck around for 17 seasons.
Walker was never the biggest guy with the most talent. He found ways to use what he had to his advantage, and it’s fair to say that grit was either at the top of that list or damn close to it. You don’t get 1,135 penalty minutes in a pro hockey career by accident.
While he’s not piling up the penalty minutes like his coach, Brock McGinn is showing Walker that he’s got the same kind of fortitude when it comes to being a very tough player for others to compete against.
“He understands the game, probably more than anybody in our room,” Walker said. “He’ll skate through a wall if I ask him to. He plays the new style of game and skates really well – he probably hits a little too hard for it, though. When a hit makes a big noise, the refs will call it and that’s happened to him a few times.”
Sure, that’s a coach talking about a player getting a penalty. But Walker said it with a smile.
In McGinn’s first full (non-injury) season with the Storm, he’s proven himself to be one of the best on Guelph’s roster: 52 points in 66 regular season games (28 goals, 24 assists) put him fourth in team scoring, while his nine powerplay goals rank him tied for second with defenceman Andrey Pedan and behind only Scott Kosmachuk. He also tied for the team lead with three short-handed goals while mixing in 1.05 penalty minutes per game.
Again, Walker must be smiling about that.
By his own admission, it’s been a good year for McGinn but he knows it’s not even close to where he wants to be. On the precipice of this year’s playoffs, McGinn and the Storm are faced with having to take on the rival Kitchener Rangers in the opening round … but McGinn doesn’t care who it is across the ice. Compared to this time last year, he’s ready to go full-speed.
“I’ve stayed healthy for the full season and that’s given me a lot of confidence,” he said. “Last year when I was playing with a broken wrist, trying to fight through that pain was tough because it was always on my mind. Now it doesn’t hurt and it’s not really on my mind at all so I can just go out there and play my game. We’ve got a good team and we just have to carry our game forward in the playoffs.”
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