Feb. 7, 2012
After a grueling practice, Grand Rapids Griffins players can shoot around and work on their individual skills. Rookies are burdened with sticking around the longest, having to pick up all the loose pucks after practice. Among the experienced players who can commonly be found late after practice is Brent Raedeke, who is nearly always the last one off the ice. One of the key elements in any professional player’s success is determination, and Raedeke shows that he is willing to do whatever it takes to improve.
“After practice I take five pucks, go in front of the net and try to shelf it,” said Raedeke. “I keep doing that over and over. I’ve been working on my skill set and my shot, and I think it’s been paying off. As a result the coach is giving me some more playing time and power play time.”
Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Raedeke has been preparing for his hockey career since he was four years old. Growing up Raedeke, was influenced by his father to play hockey and has loved it ever since. He spent his junior career in the WHL, playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings and Brandon Wheat Kings. During his WHL career, Raedeke was able to get a taste as a Griffin by signing an amateur tryout at the end of the 2008-09 season. With the experience gained from playing in the WHL, his transition to the AHL was made a little easier.
“I think the WHL helped a lot,” explained Raedeke. “The travel is quite similar and the style of play is a lot similar to the AHL or the NHL. There are big players and a lot of grinding and hitting, so I think it prepared me very well.”
In 2010-11, he began his first full season as a Griffin, scoring 13 points (8-5—13) in 67 games. Although his first year in the AHL was a good start for a rookie, he entered this season determined to improve his offensive abilities.
“I hope this season to get more experience, try to get more points and just do the best I can to contribute offensively more often,” said the 21-year-old forward.
With Raedeke’s willingness to put in the extra hours to improve, it is no surprise to Griffins head coach Curt Fraser that Raedeke has grown throughout his AHL career.
“Brent felt his way along last year, but this year now he is starting to score some goals,” said Fraser. “I think Brent has just thrown everything aside and he’s learned that being the first one on the puck makes a huge difference, hitting the net when you shoot makes a big difference, and being strong on the draws makes a big difference.”
With all of the hard work Raedeke has put in he is glad to see that it is paying off with more playing time during the games.
“Last year playing on the fourth line most of the year and being in and out of the lineup, you don’t get as much opportunity,” he said. “This year I have been working as hard as I can and I have been getting some more chances. With my line mates, Willie Coetzee and Trevor Parkes, we have been doing pretty well and I’ve been able to put the puck in the net a few times which has been nice. Getting those chances and burying them when you get them is the most important thing.”
This season, Raedeke has appeared in 41 of 45 games, and has able to establish himself as a mainstay in a Griffins lineup that is currently healthy. Contributing to his additional playing time and offensive success is his background as a defensive-minded player.
“I try to do the best I can on defense,” Raedeke said. “I take a lot of pride in it. Play patient, play smart, and play good defense and if you do that you are going to get offensive chances. It’s definitely helped me playing defense first and working from underneath. You get chances that way and I think that’s really helped me in my career.”
With seven goals and six assists so far this season this Griffins center has earned the respect from his coaches and will be looking at much more ice time during the rest of the year.
“I think Brent has really grown as a player,” said Fraser. “He is starting to contribute a lot more and he is getting more comfortable with the competition level here. From the start of the year until now, he has improved 100%. Jim Paek and I have a lot of confidence in our young kids and Brent is one of those guys that we can throw into any situation and be confident that he can do a great job.”
Raedeke’s recent success has only motivated him to work even harder and to continue earning more points for his team during these next few months.
“I have changed my mind set to think more offensively,” explained Raedeke. “I am going to the net more and shooting more. Also, I have to remember the simple things like keeping your stick on the ice, and try to find the open spot in the offensive zone. These are small little things but they add up.”
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