Originally posted March 30, 2021
‘Know what gets you paid’
There are all sorts of adages along those lines in the hockey world, but essentially it means that to be successful, a player needs to know what they are good at it, and stick to those elements consistently.
So far this year, that is Moose Jaw forward Eric Alarie to a tee.
Alarie, who turned 18 in January, is in his second full season with the Warriors, and at 6-foot-1, and a full 200-pounds, is heavy on the puck, tenacious and physical on the forecheck, and perhaps most important, fully understands how to score.
A familiar comparison might be former Detroit great Tomas Holmstrom with his heavy shot, and his effectiveness in front and behind the opposition net.
I mean, look at this tip:
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 28, 2021
And this rocket:
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) March 29, 2021
That he is quoted as saying he has shot 250 pucks almost every day of his life since he was eight should not come as surprise, given the bullets he has already unleashed at the Hub.
“He’s going to be an unreal player going forward,” said 21-year-old teammate Tate Popple after yet another strong showing from Alarie.
“He has already shown his shot, his size, and his ability. He is just growing into himself right now and he’s only going to get better.”
Where would the 2021 Regina Hub Warriors be without his goals?
The literal answer is ‘missing a quarter of their goals’, and the figurative one is ‘in big trouble’, as Moose Jaw has struggled mightily in that department of late, lighting the lamp a meager six times over a four-game losing streak heading into Tuesday’s ‘Trans-Canada Clash’ with the Regina Pats.
Alarie has two of those six goals, scoring in each of the last two contests, and when he missed March 21’s 3-1 loss to the Saskatoon Blades to an injury, his absence was extremely notable.
He has six goals through eight games on the year, compared to seven in 61 games last season while the Warriors have a total of 24, at the time of writing.
A native of Winnipeg, the left-winger came up through the Winnipeg Warriors program before joining the local RINK Hockey Academy prep team, also in his hometown.
There in his draft year in 2017-18, while playing alongside the likes of highly touted NHL draft prospect and Winnipeg ICE defenceman Carson Lambos, he led his very talented group in scoring, and earned a first-round, 22nd overall selection by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2018 WHL draft.
Alarie stuck around RINK for another year of development with a U18 squad full of future WHL talent, before making the jump to Mosaic Place a year ago.
Although an output of seven goals and 21 points for a 16-year-old rookie on a struggling Major Junior team was a very solid start in 2019-2020, and his on-ice performance has been critical to the Warriors so far this year, it is his off-ice maturation that has his head coach Mark O’Leary the most excited.
“I think with Eric is that he is such a driven individual,” he said.
“Coaches love to coach to work with players like that; they’re coachable, they want to learn, and you can lean on them. Credit to Eric, he just had a really good off-season, gained a lot of confidence in terms of the work he put in. I think you’re seeing a different guy off the ice too this year, and I think that (has to do with the fact it’s his second season), where he’s a little more comfortable in his surroundings since he’s been through the grind of a WHL season. I just see a more confident kid, and to be honest, he’s just smiling more. Coming to the rink I think there’s more enjoyment in it and it’s showing in his play right now. He’s a hard-working kid, and it’s fun to see him being rewarded.”
Alarie is great at the little details of compete. Check out this clip of him out-battling a Regina player in the corner:
Alarie has been listed as a ‘C’ skater for the upcoming NHL draft, and as the net-front presence on an outstanding power play clicking at 28.9 percent in the Hub so far, and on one expected to stay very good moving forward with young shooters like Brayden Yager and the soon-to-breakout Jagger Firkus, Alarie’s stock looks like it is only heading one direction: up.