ANAHEIM C.A. – Many are chosen, few are called.
Is a saying that many potential all-star hockey players hear and in this case refers to being drafted by an NHL hockey team. But for many drafted players getting a shot at the “show” never happens and they languish in the minor pros or head to Europe.
Six Nations’ Brandon Montour was chosen by the Anaheim Ducks two long years ago and was assigned to the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliates the San Diego Gulls.
All of Montour’s great work ethic and patience paid off when he got “the call” he’d been waiting for since he first laced up a pair of skates at the Gaylord Powless Arena in Ohsweken.
He was called up to the Ducks before a two game road trip, which began in Calgary against the Flames Thursday Dec. 28. He also dressed for Friday’s game in Vancouver, but saw less ice time.
He was called to fill the role of Sami Vatanen who had came up sick and left a vacancy for Montour to have his first NHL experience.
He was told following the Gulls’ 2-1 OT loss in which he scored the only Gulls goal and called his mom back home in Ohsweken even though it was the middle of the night despite the time difference.
“Obviously a lot of emotions because it’s my first time,” Montour said, on being called. “I’m excited to get going. This is what I grew up playing the game for. I’m ready to go. If it’s there, it’s there. If it’s not, I’ll just keep waiting.”
Montour started attracting serious attention back in 2011 to 2013 when he was a standout player for the Brantford Golden Eagles and Caledonia Pro-Fit Corvairs of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL). From there, he went on to play for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League (USHL) before transitioning to NCAA Division 1 hockey with UMass Amherst.
In the 2014 to 2015 seasons, his first season in the pros, Montour led all AHL defensemen in assists (45), ranked second in scoring (57) and was named to the AHL First All-Star Team with San Diego.
“He’s earned the opportunity,” said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. “He was a player we thought would be challenging for a spot out of training camp. It didn’t materialize, but he went down and worked hard. All the reports are he’s been their best player.”
Thanks to Montour’s two-game performance, against Calgary and Vancouver, he was asked to stay with the Ducks for a closer look, sending Shay Theodore back to San Diego instead.
“We know he’ll be back,” Carlyle said of Theodore. “It’s not a question of if, it’s just when. And it gives us an opportunity to take a longer look at Montour here. We’ve given him a couple games so far and we’ll have an opportunity for him to stay with our hockey club and practise with us.
“Kind of get more up to speed on where he’s at in his development.”
Montour knew he had made the best of his opportunity and was pleased with his performance with the Ducks.
“I thought I played well enough to keep staying here,” said Montour, who was a bit surprised but thankful to remain in Anaheim. “Sami’s back but Shea will go back there and dominate. I’m just looking forward to keep playing and continue being a part of these guys.”
Montour and the Ducks will be hosting Detroit on Wednesday in their second of a five-game homestand.