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Highly touted Mattheos could go No. 1 overall

Monarchs centre, blue-liner top bantam draft prospects

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The man who's had an insider's seat for nearly three years sees good -- and deserving -- things for forward Stelio Mattheos and defenceman Max Martin at Thursday's WHL Bantam Draft and beyond.

The head coach of the bantam Winnipeg Monarchs, Stewart Thiessen has spent three seasons coaching the high-powered duo, who are expected to be first-round picks.

Mattheos may well wind up as the first overall pick, since the Brandon Wheat Kings scored big at the WHL's annual draft lottery. The Saskatoon Blades won the lottery drawing and moved up to the first pick, one the Wheat Kings hold because of a trade two years ago.

Mattheos is listed at 6-1, 174 pounds. He turns 15 on June 14.

His 2013-14 season in Winnipeg AAA hockey was exceptional. He scored a league-leading 53 goals and added 50 assists for 103 points in 32 games.

'He's got a great skill set -- great shot, great hands and vision -- and those allow him to make plays and score goals when he's given the opportunity. He's been a great player for us'

-- Monarchs coach Stewart Thiessen on Stelio Mattheos

"It's something he's worked really hard at," Thiessen said. "He's a guy who puts in a lot of extra work away from the rink, to work on his fitness, his strength, and his speed. That translates to giving himself a lot of opportunities in games.

"He's got a great skill set -- great shot, great hands and vision -- and those allow him to make plays and score goals when he's given the opportunity.

"He's been a great player for us."

Martin, listed at 5-11, 178 pounds, finished ninth in league scoring with 18 goals and 41 assists for 59 points in 32 games, but he's way more than just offence, Thiessen said.

"He's an elite offensive talent, especially for a defenceman," the coach said. "He's got a great shot. He's an excellent skater. He's got great vision and he's very intelligent and he plays with a lot of tenacity in his game.

"So scouts really love that he plays a hard game, that he's tough to play against and he's very strong physically and that makes it tough for other teams' top players to play against him."

Martin, who's ranked by many in the top 10 draft prospects this week, turns 15 in July.

Thiessen said much of the dynamic duo's success has come from paying their dues.

"They've worked extremely hard to get to where they're at; they've earned everything their achieving right now," he said.

And it's not hurting either that leadership is included in the package.

"They're both natural leaders" he said. "Their teammates gravitate towards them. They are very passionate and hungry. They're also there to have fun but they do put in the work and they lead their teammates by example. I would say both of them have a passion for the game that's second to none.

"They both want to be the best at their individual positions and they work extremely hard to get there. It sure makes it fun to coach them. They're hungry for knowledge and they listen very carefully, pay attention to details, which makes coaching them very easy."

Asked to gaze into the players' future, Thiessen said he had no reservations.

"Absolutely none," he said. "They're both going to be players that will have an impact at the next level."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 30, 2014 C5

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