MISSISSAUGA – It hasn’t been the prettiest of seasons for the Mississauga Steelheads, who are currently sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, heading into the month of December.
Through 25 games, the Steelheads are currently holding a record of 8-16-2, with half of those victories coming in the month of November.
The Steelheads are now feeling the pressure of the Kingston Frontenacs behind them, as they are only two points back of the final playoff spot, and might have to fight against them without their face of the franchise for a little bit.
Thomas Harley has received an invite from Hockey Canada for their World Junior camp later this month in Oakville, for an opportunity to earn a spot for Canada’s roster this year to play in the coveted tournament.
Given Harley’s track record, he has a more than a decent shot to earn his spot on the roster, however, at this point, it’s hard to tell, as the camp hasn’t even started yet meaning, this is all speculation.
With that being said, how does Harley’s resume and playing style shape up in the eyes of Hockey Canada and the head coach for this season’s tournament, London Knights bench boss Dale Hunter?
Through 24 games this season, Harley has 24 points (11 goals and 16 assists), leading the Steelheads in points and has easily been the catalyst for a Steelheads team that would be nowhere near where they are without their workhorse defensemen.
Not to mention, Harley’s skill set is something that Hockey Canada will be needing when Boxing Day arrives when Canada will play in their first game of the tournament.
Looking at some of the other defensemen that should get a spot on the team, (ex. Bowen Byram, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Kevin Bahl, etc.), Harley will have the opportunity to stand out due to his abilities as a puck-moving defensemen, who offers a tremendous first-pass to go along with his elite skating.
Due to Harley’s offensive instincts, he should also become a very important player on the power-play.
Assuming that Ty Smith and Bowen Byram will be playing on the first unit, Harley can become a viable option for Canada, quarterbacking the second-unit. 12 of Harley’s 27 points this season have come from the power-play (4 goals, 8 assists), showing that he is more than capable to lead that unit.
With this in mind, Harley’s service also becomes very valuable in a tournament that will be played on international ice, a surface in which Harley will be very comfortable in, leading into a situation in which he can thrive in.
Another factor that bodes well for Harley’s chances was his performance last April in the U18 Tournament.
Alongside other defensemen that were invited to camp, such as Jamie Drysdale and Braden Schneider, Harley was Canada’s most reliable defensemen for the team, and also pitched in offensively with 4 points, leading the team among the back-end.
If Harley can continue the personal success that he has had this season during camp, it will be more than likely that we can see him playing in crucial situations for his country later this month.