Aarssen giving defence stability

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

London Knights rookie defenceman Scott Aarssen provides his coaching staff with the same warm and fuzzy feeling a high-quality security system gives to a homeowner.

"He's so safe. You put him out there and he does everything hard," Knights assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said. "He's already our No. 2 defenceman and our most consistent. It's a bit surprising because he's a rookie and still learning but when he played in St. Thomas (for the Western Junior B Hockey League's Stars) last year as a 16-year-old he was one of the top four defenceman on his team and an all-star."

With Adam Dennis back in goal and the Knights offence rolling on all cylinders, London's biggest question mark has become its blue line.

Veteran Frank Rediker, the former Windsor Spitfire who has endured two major knee surgeries during his OHL career, has shouldered the bulk of the load at the back end. The over-ager played 30 minutes in Brampton on Thursday but no one is sure how long he will be able to keep up that kind of pace.

That makes the youthful Aarssen, a five-foot-11, 192-pound London native, a vital commodity if the Knights are to make another run at a Western Conference title.

"(The ice time) is a lot more than I imagined it would be," the 17-year-old former 10th- round draft pick said yesterday. "I kind of knew I would be on the team but I also knew it would be up to me to work my way into the top four defencemen. That's where you want to be because it's where you're going to get the most ice time."

With Matt McCready still nursing a broken bone in his hand, Aarssen and fellow Londoner and former Star Ryan Martinelli have been asked to play a lot more minutes than they normally would receive.

Aarssen has recorded an assist and was plus-two in his first nine games. He picked up another assist last night.

Though his development has been greatly accelerated, the Knights see a lot of potential in Aarssen.

"I think Scott's going to have one of the hardest shot in the league a couple of years from now," Beaulieu said. "He's not there yet, of course, but if he keeps getting stronger and keeps working, he could be one of those guys who is a mainstay on the power play. When we started watching him, we really liked how he made the first pass out of his end and how he never backed down from anything."


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