They surrendered a three-goal lead on Friday night, but the Mississauga Steelheads were able to regroup and come through in overtime, defeating the Niagara Ice Dogs by a 6-5 count.
With the win, the Steelheads improve to 5-5-0-1 on the season entering the weekend — good enough for a second-place tie in the OHL‘s Central Division. Yet, while the likes of Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian lead the way offensively, the Steelheads can also contribute their success to their defensive game, most notably with rookie blueliner, Los Angeles Kings prospect, Jacob Moverare.
In 10 games for Mississauga thus far, Moverare has a goal and four assists to go in hand with a plus-three rating. But, while his offensive statistics are fairly modest, the 18-year-old is more known for his defensive game where he has looked increasingly better with each game. Nevertheless, the Kings’ second-round draft choice in 2016 certainly doesn’t mind hitting the twine.
“It’s still early in the season so it’s certainly nice to score,” Moverare told me following his team’s victory Friday. “Going to keep trying to get goals, try to help [the Steelheads] win. So, I feel it was nice to get the first goal.”
That first goal came on Wednesday, October 12, in front of the home crowd, en route to an 11-3 rout over the Guelph Storm.
After being at Kings rookie camp last month, Moverare was sent back to Mississauga to work on a few facets of his game.
“Mostly my skating and getting stronger,” he told me a couple of weeks ago.
Using his size to his advantage and getting more aggressive along the boards are arguably two of the biggest areas that Moverare has needed work on entering his OHL career. So far, though, the youngster has been working hard in said areas and the results have not gone unnoticed.
While we haven’t seen anything spectacular just yet, Moverare has shown that he is less reticent about using his 6-foot-2, 198-pound frame to his advantage. He may not be the first to jump into scuffles or lay any devastating hits but with each passing game, Moverare is looking more like he will get the hang of his physical game much sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, though, Moverare has been flaunting the pros of his game, including his heads-up defensive style and his overall maturity as the native of Ostersund, Sweden, possesses a level of modesty that more players could benefit from.
Part of the maturation process on the ice, though, for the Steelheads is making sure that each player receives a fair amount of ice time with his teammates. This is no exception for Moverare who has been paired with various defensemen thus far, helping him get a feel for who he works best with and what each of his partners brings to the table. Yet, while Moverare was reluctant to pick just one, he did disclose which defensive partner he has benefited from most thus far.
“Every defenseman brings something good,” Moverare told me Friday. “I think I can play with every defenseman on the team, but I think me and Stefan Leblanc play really good together. We find each other good on the ice and help each other on both offensive and defensive ends. So, if I have to pick one, I have to pick Leblanc because I really like to play with him.”
Being 20 and in his fourth and final OHL season, there may not be anyone better for Moverare than Leblanc right now. Having spent all but 38 games of his junior career with the Steelheads, Leblanc offers a wealth of junior experience — something ideal for the still-green Moverare.
While Moverare did continue his solid defensive work on Sunday, though, the Steelheads lost in overtime, losing to the visiting Kitchener Rangers 3-2 to fall to 5-5-1-1 on the season. They will hope to get back on the winning track on Friday when they visit the Sarnia Sting.