Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue-liner Fowler a blue-chip prospect

By Paul Wiecek

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BRANDON -- His father is from Newfoundland and he was born in Windsor, but Spitfires defenceman Cam Fowler is nevertheless the pride of the American hockey program right now.

Fowler, who left Windsor as a toddler and grew up in Detroit idolizing the Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom, was a key element in the gold medal winning American hockey team at this winter's World Juniors and is widely expected to be selected in the Top 5 at next month's NHL entry draft.

Along with projected top pick -- and teammate -- Taylor Hall, Fowler is about to become an 18-year-old millionaire.

Not bad for a kid who didn't blossom as a player until he was well into his teens. "I was one of the weaker players when I was young -- not one of the better kids on my team," Fowler recalled the other day. "My midget-minor years is when I realized I might have a future in this game. The national program started calling and things have just been progressing from there."

Have they ever. Fowler has become that most coveted of players -- a physical defenceman with offensive prowess. His 47 assists and 55 points this season, coupled with a plus-38, spoke volumes about both aspects of his game and cemented his lofty position heading into next month's draft.

Fowler could have attended the University of Notre Dame but opted for the Ontario Hockey League as part of a focussed plan prepared with his parents that is aimed at only one goal.

"We felt the OHL was the best way to get me prepared for the National Hockey League," said Fowler. "Hockey is my passion and I'd like to do it for a living someday."

So can it be a distraction having two of the most coveted hockey prospects in the game together in one dressing room, with the draft in Los Angeles looming June 25-26?

"We try not to (let it be an issue), especially when we're here," says Fowler. "We don't want the focus to be on us, it's about the team. We've traded some jokes throughout the season. But we've both done what we had to do to solidify ourselves."

OVERTIME: The final of the Memorial Cup will now be an evening affair. Originally scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on Sunday, organizers announced the game will be played at 6 p.m. Sunday... Westman Place holds 5,000 and change for hockey and it's been at or near capacity for every game so far. The Wheat Kings games on Friday and Sunday drew crowds of 5,381 and 5,215 respectively, while Saturday's Moncton/Calgary game drew 5,123.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 17, 2010 C4

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