FUTURE WATCH | Mitch Moroz
Oil Kings forward Mitch Moroz is playing a leadership role as the club enters the second round of the WHL playoffs
In just four games of the postseason, Edmonton Oil Kings left winger and Edmonton Oiler draft pick (drafted by Edmonton in the second round, 32nd overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft,) Mitch Moroz has put up the same amount of points he did in last year’s 20 playoff match-ups he played in. Five of those points coming in a 6-2 series-sweeping win over the Prince Albert Raiders.
“It was obviously a clinching game for us and I wanted to try to have an impact on the game,” explained Moroz, humbly adding, “But, I thought everybody was pretty solid that night and our power play was rolling, so, that made it easy to give us some numbers and sometimes you’re just clicking like that.”
Having played with the Oil Kings since 2010, Moroz is no stranger to playoffs but explains each year is different and explains the role he has been given in this year’s postseason run.
“It’s just a different opportunity; a different role that I’ve been given. Last year I was more of a shutdown guy and I was more responsible to shut others down as opposed to putting up numbers and stuff like that,” he said. “So, this year it’s just, a little bit older a little bit more opportunity and [I’m] just trying to roll with it.”
After taking on a more offensive role in the first series of the postseason, Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal says looking towards their next series against the Brandon Wheat Kings (which gets underway at Rexall Place on Thursday, April 3), Moroz will have to take on the “shut down” and physical role he has filled previously as well as bring the offensive production he brought to the table with Prince Albert.
“It’s going to have to be a physical series for Mitch, he’s got to be a physical presence,” explained Laxdal, “He’s got to bang their defencemen, he has to go hard at the net and he has to own those critical areas on the ice. So, it has to be a big series for him. “
The 6’3” 214-pound, Calgary native will look to take on any opportunity he is given as one of the veteran players.
“You kind of pay your dues as a younger guy and you’re put into maybe a lesser role at times to help the team win and when you gain that experience I think you’re called upon to have a bigger impact,” explains Moroz, adding, “That’s not to say that other roles are less important but, there is a lot more opportunity that’s been handed to myself and a few other guys and I think we are just trying to do the best we can with it.”
To maintain the success of his game as well as his team’s, Moroz doesn’t plan on changing too much.
“The last game [against Prince Albert] was a byproduct of simplicity and getting pucks to the net and playing my game so, just keep rolling with that and not changing it up too much.”
In what’s most likely his final WHL playoff run with the Oil Kings (he could play as an overager), he is trying to soak up the experience saying, “[I’m] just trying to enjoy it; coming to the rink, being myself, having fun with the guys is the biggest thing and, just building these relationships up and just coming to the rink everyday and putting in the work and just doing everything I can to get another championship.”
Having coached him since his first season, Laxdal explains the impact Moroz has had on the team.
“He’s a big part of our team; he’s a big part of our power play, and he’s a big part of our 5-on-5,” said Laxdal.
Not only is he a visible member on the ice, but off it as well.
“He’s really starting to grow in that [leadership] department and understand that he’s a big body presence in the dressing room. I think he’s just got to understand that a lot of kids really look up to him because of who he is and what he does and obviously his toughness,” said Laxdal. “He’s got to learn to embrace the young kids, which I think he really is learning to do and he’s really learning to work on pro-habits and being a good pro, everyday.”
Looking ahead to the pro-career Moroz is working towards, Laxdal says he looks forward to watching him progress.
“It will be interesting, obviously there’s probably going to be some seasoning there in the minors but he’s got a lot of attributes; he’s a big strong guy, skates well when he’s up to speed, shoots the puck hard, takes the puck to the net,” adding, “I think it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the pace and it’s amazing seeing kids when they go from junior to pro how they have to pick up their pace and they do it. It will be interesting to see what he does but obviously he’s a big strong body that can produce.”
Barons Player Stats | AHL Standings | Barons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 2012-13 | 2011-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. MDT
|d||19||68||7||14||21||-3||102||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|f||19||70||35||50||85||29||83||CALGARY HITMEN (WHL)|
|DARNELL NURSE||D||19||64||13||37||50||1||91||SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)|
|F||19||69||34||27||61||-2||72||VANCOUVER GIANTS (WHL)|
|f||19||59||16||27||43||5||59||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|F||19||70||35||28||63||25||156||EDMONTON OIL KINGS (WHL)|
|F||19||39||9||8||17||-4||14||LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)|
|27||13||6||19||-10||12||OWEN SOUND ATTACK (OHL)|
|F||24||41||5||9||14||10||142||JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)|
|F||19||49||2||2||4||2||35||NIZHNY NOVGOROD (RUSSIA)|
|26||45||21||17||6||3.02||.909||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|LAURENT BROSSOIT||20||8||2||5||0||3.60||.888||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|5||2||1||1||3.63||.901||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|22||19||n/a||n/a||n/a||3.12||.894||HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)|
|0||-||-||-||-||-||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|