photo via Target Photograph
Sherwood Park Crusaders forward Garrett Clegg was named to the AJHL’s Viterra North All-Rookie team, on Monday afternoon, becoming the fifth Crusader in the last eight years to receive this honour; joining Matt Tomkins, Tommy Nixon, Sean MacTavish, and Ty Readman.
“There are a lot of great players in this league and it’s a huge honour to be selected to this team,” Garrett Clegg told me. “I couldn’t have gotten there without my team mates and coaches helping me out along way.”
The St Albert native played in 59 games in his first full campaign with the Crusaders scoring 32 points (19 goals, 13 assists) and finished sixth on the team in scoring.
His knack for scoring goals was evident in his freshman campaign. The hard-shooting winger scored 19 times, which tied him for fourth amongst rookies in the AJHL and the second most by a first year in the North Division trailing only to Grande Prairie Storm forward Zachary Okabe (22).
It wasn’t just quantity either, Clegg found the net at the right times. Four of his 19 goals were game-winners, which tied him for the second most by a rookie with Bobby Young of the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
Clegg also finished the with most points by a 2000-born rookie and fourth overall in 2000-born scoring. The only players to score more than him were Austin Wong (54) and Jacob Bernard-Docker (34) of the Okotoks Oilers, and Sean Comrie (34) from the Spruce Grove Saints; all of whom have been mentioned in the NHL central scouting draft rankings at some point this season.
Although known mostly for his goal scoring, he developed into a more diverse offensive threat. At the start of the year, you could almost guarantee that he’d rip a shot from the blueline rather than look for an open teammate. That was shown on the stat line with him having 12 goals and only one assist on December 1st. After that date, you could see him become more aware of his teammates. From December 1st onwards, Clegg would score seven goals and add 12 assists.
It’s impressive to see that kind of change mid-season and for it to work out positively.
What’s also impressive about his game is his ability to play up and down the lineup in different roles. At points this season, Head Coach Adam Manah had him playing in a fourth line check role one night, then in a scoring role the following on the top line playing alongside the team’s top guys like Ty Readman and Dylan Stewart. Not many players posses the skill and ability to change roles on a night to night basis. The Crusaders have found themselves a special player.
Looking towards to next season, I could see Clegg making his way into the teams top-six on permanent bases. He’ll have a lot of competition competing for that role, but for the Crusaders to him on one line and then Ryan Cox would be incredibly dangerous. It’ll be exciting to see what kind of steps Clegg takes next season, especially considering the strides he took over the course of the 2017-18 campaign.