So far, so good for Canucks rookie
Thomas Lenart has come as advertised for the Niagara Falls Canucks.
The 17-year-old Stoney Creek native played a couple of games with the Canucks last season and was with the team throughout their run to a Golden Horseshoe championship and Sutherland Cup playoffs.
“He had a chance to AP (associate player) for us last year and that gives you a chance to see what guys are all about,” Canucks coach Frank Pietrangelo said. “He got a taste of things and the experience he got there was invaluable.
“This year, there were no surprises.”
Lenart is off to a strong start with three goals and six points in his first six games and noted getting his feet wet last season has been a big advantage.
“I do feel it helped,” Lenart said. “It got the nerves out. Last year it was pretty tough but coming in this year was a fresh start but I knew I had some experience and that was more than any other rookie.”
Lenart had a solid season last year with the Hamilton Junior Bulldogs major midgets with 21 goals and 51 points in 31 games.
“He’s got great hands and that’s one thing that’s really translated well,” Pietrangelo said. “He’s got to work on his skating but most guys do.”
Lenart said he’s always been able to put the puck in the net, despite not possessing blazing speed.
“It was something I’ve always had. I remember even in atom I would lead tournaments in scoring,” he said.
Pietrangelo said Lenart makes up for his lack of foot speed by being so good in other aspects of his game.
“He has a very high hockey IQ and knows where the pucks going to be and has a good, hard shot,” he said. “He reads the game really well.
“You have your positive points and your negative points and it’s how you pull them all together and he does it really well.”
Pietrangelo feels Lenart’s skating will improve and that it’s not uncommon for players at the junior B level to have parts of their game to work on.
“If you look at all guys at this level there’s one or two things you can nit pick at,” he said. “I talked to him about as an area he really needs to work on, not just here, but outside of here that’s going to make him better.
“You can never be a good enough skater. It’s not that he’s a bad skater, he just not the quickest.”
Lenart has been pleased with his start to the season.
“Coming in I wasn’t really sure how I would do,” he admitted. “Frank gave me a great opportunity and put me with good players and it shows on the ice that I am capable.
“It’s a pretty big change. You’re trying to meet their expectations and trying to show you can play with them. Being a smaller guy, it’s tough but you just have to work for it.”
Lenart commutes from his hometown to the Falls, but is finding it manageable thanks to a spare in his last class he was able to arrange after taking some courses in the summer.
“He’s comes here and works hard and he’s a good kid. He’s making that commute every day and that’s not easy but this is where he wanted to play and that’s important to us,” Pietrangelo said.
Lenart has no complaints.
“It’s great. It’s really a team together. The boys are all one getting out there practising every day and we’re doing really well in the season.”
Lenart picked up two more assists Friday as the Canucks blanked the visiting Pelham Panthers 3-0.
Max Lightfoot, Jaleel Adams and Matthew Riva scored for the Canucks, who improved to 3-0-2-1.
Anthony Tremonte made 26 saves for the shutout.
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