(Marc Smith/DiscoverMooseJaw) For two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Brayden Point and Jack Rodewald made for a potent duo on the team’s top line.
Both players have now taken their talents to the professional level and continue to make noise.
Point has cemented himself as a rising young star with the Tampa Bay Lightning, while Rodewald finally received a taste of the National Hockey League, suiting up for four games with the Ottawa Senators.
“This year was a great year, definitely an big individually memento being able to get my first couple NHL games and now with the work this summer, I can build it into something next season,” said Rodewald.
“That was the best part of my career so far, having that first NHL game and the feeling that goes along with it and having my mom in town for the game in New Jersey, it’s a long road to get there and it was a lot of fun.”
The 24-year-old Calgary product posted 14 goals and 25 points in 62 games with the Belleville Senators during the 2017-18 season. He had two penalty minutes in four NHL games.
Rodewald said now that he has some NHL experience under his belt, it just makes him more hungry to return there permanently.
“Everyone’s final goal is the NHL and being here this weekend with guys like Brayden Point, Brayden is a mainstay now and I’m just trying to look ahead to that and trying to build a career for yourself and a name for yourself, being around guys that have accomplished that is extra motivation,” said Rodewald.
Everyone in Moose Jaw knew that Point was going to be a star since his 15-year-old season, but Point took that to another level with his performance during the 2017-18 season with the Lightning.
He scored 32 goals and 66 points in 82 games; made his first All-Star Game appearance, where he finished second to Connor McDavid in the fastest skater event; and defended the opposition’s best player during Tampa Bay’s run to the Eastern Conference Final.
“It was pretty cool to get into the playoffs this year and experience playoffs, we had a good run and just fell short, but hopefully that’s something to build off,” said Point.
Point had a surprising rookie season when he scored 18 goals and 40 points in 2016-17, but he surpassed even more expectations with his stellar sophomore campaign.
He said it came down to becoming more comfortable in the league and his role.
“The more you play, the more you start to under the game at the NHL level and where you have time and space and where you don’t, so in my second year, I started to feel more comfortable and hopefully that will continue more and more as I keep playing,” said Point.
While he broke out offensively, it was Point’s two-way game that earned him praise throughout the year. During the Lightning’s playoff run, he matched up against players like Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall and Alex Ovechkin.
Point said that he savoured that role, “We’ve got such a good first line that you’ve just got to take care of your net first. The defensive part of my game was something that I worked on a lot and I did a better job of it this year and hopefully keep getting more comfortable and better at the little things,” he said.
“Obviously the playoffs was a pretty tough task and I don’t you ever shut those guys down totally, but you do your best and it was a lot of fun to challenge yourself against guys like that and it was a good learning experience for me.”
Point and Rodewald were back in Moose Jaw last week for the Warriors Alumni Men’s Golf Tournament. Point said he always circles the date on his calendar and tries to get back to the Friendly City.
“It’s awesome, just to come back and see everybody, staff and the players you played and the guys you didn’t play with that were older than you or the young guys, so it’s always fun to come back to and meet new guys,” said Point.
The tournament raises funds for the Warriors Education Fund with over $100,000 coming in from this year’s event.