Nemisz rounds out game
Flames prospect moves from wing to centre, and thrives
HEAT COME TO CALGARY
The Heat will take on the Oklahoma City Barons, the top affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.
See top Flames prospects like Leland Irving, Greg Nemisz, Matt Pelech and others up close.
And, from Feb. 15-18, leading up to the game, calgaryflames.com will have features on some of the top prospects.
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Irving makes big strides
With the lack of natural centres on this year’s Abbotsoford Heat squad, head coach Jim Playfair recently decided to work on a little project. He took Greg Nemisz, who played right wing for much of his Ontario Hockey League career, and moved him to the middle.
On a team stocked with rookies, the 20-year-old forward is benefiting from centering a pair of veterans in Ryan Stone and Ales Kotalik as the Heat push for a playoff spot in the tight North Division.
“We’ve put him at centre ice to get him more exposure to that part of the rink because, quite frankly, that’s an area the organization isn’t really deep in,” Playfair said. “Nemo’s adjusted quite well to the middle of the ice.”
In the team’s two-game sweeping of the Toronto Marlies last week, the trio of Nemisz, Kotalik and Stone combined for seven points as the Heat collected all four points from their North Division rival.
“Our line has had some success lately with Stoner there too – they both played in the NHL and they’re both really good guys to play with,” said Nemisz, who is currently sporting nine stitches on his bottom lip thanks to a butt-end from Marlies defenceman Matt Lashoff Saturday night.
“[Kotalik’s] a great player and just a great person to have around in the dressing room – I’ve been practicing and playing with him lately. You learn things from a guy like that everyday.”
Through the first 56 games of the season the six-foot-three, 197-pounder trails only Matt Keith in team scoring; the Flames first-round pick from 2008 (25th overall) has 12 goals and 26 points – three points shy of Keith.
Additionally, the Ontario native is 19th among all AHL rookies in points, second among rookies with three short-handed goals while leading all rookies with six shootout goals.
“I feel pretty good right now, obviously I want to put the puck in the net a little more,” Nemisz said. “I’m playing up the middle between two guys that can really score so playing centre I’m a little more of a distributor.
“I’m trying to round out my game at both ends of the ice. Definitely since the all-star break I feel like I’ve been playing some of my best hockey of the year.”
Since the all-star break Nemisz has been clicking at nearly a point per game with a goal and five helpers in seven games. He’s also presented Playfair with a number of options from a coaching standpoint.
“He plays a lot, he plays power play, he plays five-on-five, he plays penalty kill – but he earned it,” Playfair said. “ He protects the puck so well, he’s strong on pucks and he’s a smart player.
“He’s come from back-to-back championship groups and he understands how to play in pressure games.”
The hope is that experience Nemisz gained in helping the Windsor Spitfires to back-to-back Memorial Cup championships will come in handy as the playoff races heat up over the next month.
“I definitely feel comfortable with the speed of the game,” Nemisz admitted. “The intensity is definitely picking up now going into the stretch run – you can’t let your foot off the gas for a game and become complacent.”
For regular updates on the Abbotsford Heat follow Dhiren on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dcmahiban