OLDS — The Olds Grizzlys have a couple of new players in their den.
Forward Christian Mealey, 17, of Calgary and Parker Scherr, a 16-year-old defenceman born in Edmonton, have both signed letters of intent to play for the junior A hockey team.
Mealey stands 6'2" and weighs 178 pounds.
He has been playing lately for the NW Calgary Flames U18 AAA team, during which time he scored a goal and picked up an assist in five games.
The Grizzlys announced his signing on Jan. 19. The team announced Scherr’s signing on Jan. 13.
Scherr is 6'2" and weighs about 175 pounds and has been playing with the OHA Edmonton U18 prep team.
In five games this season, Parker notched two goals, three assists and six penalty minutes.
Both players attended the Grizzlys prospects and main camps this past August.
That’s where head coach Scott Atkinson and other members of the staff got a good look at their abilities. They were impressed.
“Christian is a big-bodied winger who we will look for to play a heavy power forward game that the Grizzlys need on the wings this coming season,” a team news release said.
“He has great north south speed and a deceptive release when shooting the puck.”
During an interview, Atkinson said Mealey mostly plays right wing but that’s not what’s key when the club evaluates talent.
“From our perspective that’s not as important as he’s a long player, so he’s fairly tall. He’s got good skill, a very determined attitude. We think he’s eventually going to be able to score at this level,” Atkinson said.
He says one key aspect of Mealey is that he’s already a good size but has potential to grow bigger.
Mealey is a right-handed shot but again, that’s not as important to Atkinson as overall talent is.
“Obviously it impacts things, but you know, from our end of it, we’re just looking to get better and we need better players, so we wouldn’t pass on a guy, just because he shoots left or right.
“But interestingly enough, we probably have more right shots on one team than I’ve ever seen in my life."
He added that the Grizzlys currently have a couple of lines with only righthanded shots. On defence, it’s a little more equal.
The club is equally high on Scherr.
“The smooth skating Scherr is a defenceman who prides himself on solid defensive play and moves the puck up quickly and jumps into the rush when possible,” the team’s website says.
Scherr is expected to play in all situations, including the power play and penalty kill.
“Parker’s going to be a really good player," Atkinson said. “He’s kind of you know, very athletic, very, skilled.”
Like Mealey, Atkinson anticipates Scherr still has room to get bigger and stronger.
Another upside is that Scherr is an all-around D-man; able to play defensively but also jump up into the play when the opportunity arises.
“He almost made our team this year,” Atkinson said.
Although the coaching staff was high on both players, in the end, they decided the best thing for their development was to send them both back down to their under 18 clubs.
“I mean, knowing what we know now, maybe they might as well have stayed, but I mean, we sent them back to their midget teams so they could get a better chance to play more,” he said.
However, as a result of the pandemic they haven’t been able to play much.
“Normally speaking, you make that decision so guys take a more prominent role on their team, they gain some leadership qualities, they get more ice time, get more specialty-team play. But this year, that hasn’t happened, right?" he said.
"That hasn’t really worked out, but at the end of the day, I think that’s still a really good strategy. Now we expect them to step in next year and be valuable contributors.”