Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Local NHL prospect St. Croix gets stoked

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TORONTO -- Michael St. Croix's adrenaline is flowing in a lot of different directions this week.

The Edmonton Oil Kings' 18-year-old right-winger from Winnipeg was more than a little stoked about last Tuesday's announcement that the NHL is returning a franchise to his hometown.

But the son of former NHL goalie Rick St. Croix, the current goalie coach of the Manitoba Moose, had a dripping brow and T-shirt to show for his efforts Friday, having been put through the poking, prodding and testing at the NHL's annual scouting combine at the Toronto Congress Centre.

All NHL teams, both scouts and executives, gathered here this week to inspect the top prospects for this year's entry draft, June 24-25 in St. Paul, Minn.

St. Croix is the 46th-ranked prospect by the Hockey News, and No. 57 by international scouting service.

That places him in the second or third round.

"This is an experience of a lifetime," St. Croix beamed after finishing his tests Friday. "There's not too many times we're the centrepiece of attention like that. It's kind of cool watching all the scouts looking at you, examining, you. But I've worked hard and hopefully they saw some things that they like.

"Obviously there are some tests you'd like to have done a bit better at but under the circumstances I think I did pretty well. Hopefully I proved to some people that I'm stronger than they thought."

St. Croix, in his second WHL season, put up 75 points in 68 games.

He said he put in some serious preparation for the physical tests this week.

"Considering our team was out in the first round, I got to train a little harder than some other guys who were still playing," he said. "At my gym back in Winnipeg, we focus on some of these tests and push to try to max out my number of reps."

Tuesday, he said he might have been more nervous than about the testing. He was on a flight to Toronto for the combine and was watching the True North/NHL press conference from the MTS Centre on the flight's television service.

"The last 20 minutes before we landed, I was getting nervous they'd shut it off just when Mark Chipman got up there," he said. "But I heard it, and how excited Winnipeg was, that was truly something special for me. Growing up in Winnipeg, following the Moose my whole life, my dad being part of the organization for such a long time, I think Winnipeg's ready for this."

His dad played in the NHL and his older brother Chris has played pro hockey for many years.

Their best advice?

"Just do the thing you love," he said. "Hockey's what I love. It's our family's legacy, our tradition.

"(My dad) keeps on telling me to do what I love and push myself to the limits."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 4, 2011 C2

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