Egert impresses with approach
It didn’t take St. Catharines Falcons coach Tyler Bielby long to be impressed with Curtis Egert.
The 20-year-old Welland native stood out from the opening day of training camp, so much so Bielby quickly named him captain.
“I had a kid that came down from the OHL and you would have thought he was here for four years with his approach,” Bielby said. “There was no swagger. You didn’t see the disappointment of being down from the OHL.
“He came here right from Day 1 and you could see it. He was one of the first ones to show up at camp and has just been a consistent blue-collar, hard-working hockey player.”
Egert, who spent the last three seasons with the Sarnia Sting, appreciates the faith shown in him by Bielby.
“It was a little bit of a shock. I didn’t really expect anything. I came in here looking to play hockey,” he said. “It’s a pretty cool chance to be a leader.
“I feel like they can learn a lot from me and how I do things and where I came from. I have a lot of experience under my belt.”
The Falcons feature the maximum nine 20-year-olds and Bielby admitted there were others in consideration to wear the C.
“I had to watch how he was being accepted by the boys and right from early on you could tell he had their respect,” Bielby said. “We had a lot of returning 20-year-olds and it could have been easy to make another decision but when it was all said and done, we made a decision we believe who is going to be the best leader in our dressing room long term and who is going to be the most consistent.”
Carson Edwardson, Bryce Robertson and Noah Solinger will act as assistant captains and Bielby welcomes all their input.
“We’re exited with our leadership group,” he said. “With him (Egert) in particular I want him to be part of the process and as a result I’ve spoken to him a couple of times about keeping the communication lines open. He’s had to go through the scratches as his level, he’s had to go through being on the fourth line and not getting the minutes he wants.”
The Falcons have strategically placed two younger players near Egert’s stall in the dressing room.
“I’ve asked him to be a mentor to the young people in the dressing room. He’s got two first-year guys on either side of him to make sure he can help balance their highs and lows of a junior hockey season,” Bielby said.
Egert, a 6-foot-1, 206-pound power forward, collected 14 goals and 21 points for the Sting last season. He had hoped to return as an over-age player, but was told my the Sting he did not fit into their plans this season.
“I was going to quit,” Egert said. “None of the teams in the O were interested in me other than Sarnia and when they said they didn’t have enough room for me I thought maybe I would just go to school and work and that would be it.”
A phone call from Falcons general manager Frank Girhiny changed all that.
“When I came here I’m glad that I did. I just want to finish my junior career on a positive year and this seemed to be a good place.”
Egert isn’t taking anything for granted as an ex-OHL player.
“I have always been the type of player to bury my head and go do whatever needs to be done,” he said. “I don’t see a difference here at all. It’s good hockey and I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far and how good of an organization this is.”
The Falcons, 1-2, take on the Thorold Blackhawks Friday in their home opener.
“We’re in the same boat as everyone else. We’ve had four practices as a team and we’ve played three regular season games,” Bielby said. “It’s going to take some time to teach and play with purpose but I have full confidence the men in this room will accomplish that.”
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