Mature Horvat has high hopes

Thursday, 13.06.2013 / 4:08 PM
Aaron Vickers  - CalgaryFlames.com (@aavickers)

CALGARY, AB -- Admittedly, Bo Horvat has no connection to the Calgary Flames.

But that doesn't necessarily mean he wouldn't welcome one.

The London Knights standout and 2013 NHL Draft eligible forward could be targeted with one of three picks in the first round owned by the Flames.

"I've been out there once," Horvat said. "I went to the Calgary Stampede but other than that, I haven't been out there too much. I hear it's an unbelievable city and great organization so I'd be really honored to get drafted there, for sure. We'll see what happens."

Whether it's in Calgary or with another National Hockey League franchise, Horvat brings a lot to the table.

The standout center had 33 goals and 61 points in 67 games in the OHL this season and elevated his game to another level in helping the London Knights to their second consecutive league title after scoring 16 times in just 21 games.

"When the games get tight and you have to have wins and you're fighting to win the championship again you have to raise your game even more," he said. "To help your team win you have to do whatever it takes.

"It's something I put in the back of my mind. To help the team win, I would do whatever it took. It's something I wanted to do and something I had to do to come out with another victory."

He saved his best goal for a spectacular finish.

In a winner-takes-all Game 7 in the Ontario Hockey League Final against the Barrie Colts that was destined for overtime, Horvat broke a late 2-2 tie.

A very late tie.

The 6-foot, 206-pound forward put the puck across the goal line with 0.1 second remaining and, after having the goal initially waived off before a lengthy review overturned the decision, was awarded the championship-winning goal.

"It's unbelievable," Horvat said. "You dream about those goals as a little kid. It still really hasn't even kicked in. It all happened so fast and I thought for sure it was in but I wasn't quite sure. When I saw the puck go in, I definitely thought it was. The suspense and waiting for it and all that, it made it that much worse. It was an unbelievable experience, for sure."

But there's more to Horvat than just clutch scoring and good timing.

He's strong in his own end, a fixture on the penalty kill and his skills in the faceoff circle are second-to-none in the draft.

Horvat brings another key trait teams covet.

"I try to be the best leader I can on and off the ice with my team," he said. "It's something I've grown up with, I think. I've always been the captain or assistant captain of my team. I just try to be the best leader I can and that's something I really wanted to do during the playoffs."

As dialed in as Horvat was this season, he's virtually clueless about what's to come on draft day in New Jersey on June 30th.

In all fairness to the OHL's reigning most sportsmanlike player, he hasn't had much of an opportunity.

London's OHL title, subsequent trip to the Memorial Cup and stopover at the NHL Scouting Combine hasn't left a lot of free time for the 18-year-old.

"I actually have no clue what's going to be happening," he admitted. "I really haven't sat down with my agent and asked what's going to happen. I'm not really quite sure where I'm going to go or how it's going to go or anything like that. I'm just really looking forward to going and getting the experience out of it and seeing where I go."

If Horvat needs some advice, he doesn't need to look far.

A factory for producing NHLers, the Knights -- led by former NHLer Dale Hunter -- have had plenty of players roll through the draft process.

Horvat's already got someone in mind.

"Scott Harrington, our captain, really helped me out that way," he said. "He's always telling me not to worry about it and just play your game and keep me calm and keep me from thinking about it too much, keep me relaxed. He was really good about it that way. He was someone I looked up to. I asked him for advice or what he thinks and stuff like that. He was really a big help for me."

Harrington was drafted 54th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Two years later, Horvat is expected to go higher as an attractive target on draft day.

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