Adam Pelech believes he will be better off in the long run for what the Erie Otters are going through this season.
The Otters have bottomed out in a bid to rebuild, trading older players and loading up with youngsters. Any victory they get — they have seven in 49 games — is basically just treated a good omen for next season. Off-loading the older players has created ample opportunity for Pelech, who's eager to make up for lost time after missing 23 games earlier in the season due to injury, including a fractured wrist. So if anything, this season has been a lesson in the power of positive thinking.
"This is the first time in my life I've ever been on a losing team so it's definitely a lot different," says Pelech, who was preceded in the OHL by his brothers Matt Pelech, a former NHL first-rounder now with the AHL's Worcester Sharks, and Michael Pelech, who plays in the ECHL. " But you just have to take the positives from it any way that you can. You're going to experience it at least once. If I'm at a higher level, I might know how to deal with it better than other guys.
'I have a big role this year, which is really good for me," the 6-foot-2, 210-pound native of Toronto adds. "I've been playing a ton, probably 30 minutes a game. It's a big responsibility, but I think I've been doing a pretty good job with it. It's nice to have such a good young corps of guys."
Pelech, who does not turn 18 until August, has good size and relatively agile for a big man. With the Otters, he has two goals and 12 points in 26 games and has managed to keep a plus/minus of just -6 while playing on a team which has been outscored two to on on the year. His athletic pedigree — his father, Bo Pelech, was an all-Canadian basketball player for Toronto's York University and one of his uncles is Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis — might also put him in good stead. Plus he had to toughen up, being the baby after two hockey-playing brothers.
"They used to be pretty rough with me," says Adam Pelech, who was 54th in NHL Central Scouting's North American midterm ranking, the highest among the five Otters on the list. "Not as much anymore, though."
1. How big of an advantage has it been to you to be the third in the line of Pelech brothers, along with having Mike Gillis as your uncle?
"I think it's huge because I see all the adversity that my brothers have gone through and how hard you have to work. How many people are working to do the same thing and how small the difference is between being in the NHL and being in the AHL. They give me a lot of help."
2. You look to Chris Pronger as a NHLer whom you emulate. What's drawn you to him?
"I like how he's really good defensively, he's mean and people don't like playing against him but he also puts up numbers offensively. He's a good two-way defenceman."
3. Outside of family, who has the greatest impact on you in hockey?
"Probably my minor hockey coach, Dan Brown [with the Toronto Marlboros]. He was my coach from the time I was six or seven years old until my minor midget year. He taught me pretty much everything I know. His son, [forward] Connor Brown, is on my team in Erie right now so I see him all the time. He was a huge influence on my career.
"He stressed the defensive end of the game and that's something that is a strong part of a game."
4. What's your main diversion when you need to get hockey off your mind for a while?
"Well, I really like to play guitar. My brother Matt and I both play guitar, so we like to play a lot in the summers. Mostly, it's acoustic, a lot of Dave Matthews Band. I've probably been playing for 4-5 years. Matt's been playing for a long time and our dad really loves it. He never played it but always wishes he had."
5. Hockey players have to be very strict about nutrition, so what's your guilty pleasure, food or beverage?
"Pizza. I love it. After a road trip, we'll have pizza on the bus, I'm always digging in."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: OHL Images).