Rediker feeling like a kid again

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Though he'll be 21 years old by season's end, Frank Rediker can't help but feel as if he's 18 again.

The London Knights over-age defenceman, who's been out of action many times during his junior hockey career and missed last year's Memorial Cup run because of left knee woes, is seeing more ice now than a polar bear and couldn't be happier about it.

As the lone veteran on a pretty green Knights blue-line, the Sterling Heights, Mich., native routinely draws a double shift and has logged a tough 30 minutes a night for the defending champions.

That number could go down a bit with the impending return of Matt McCready, who missed much of October with a broken bone in his hand, but Rediker is still going to be counted on to play plenty of minutes the rest of the year.

"The guys tease me that it's my fifth year in the league," the six-foot-two, 203-pounder said, "but because of injury, I have really only played what adds up to about two or three years. I knew coming in I would get the chance to play a lot because of our young defence and it's been a lot of fun. I love it."

If he continues to feel physically the way he does now, there's little question in his mind he can prolong the heavy workload.

"Absolutely, I can handle it," he said. "I think the new rules help a guy like me because I can skate. Maybe in the past, I tried not to put myself in a vulnerable position, but I can't pass up a check. I play a physical game. I clear people out from the front of the net. I take someone out in the corner. The only thing (with the rules) is I sometimes still get caught for a penalty that I don't think should've been called."

Rediker, who began his OHL career in Windsor, was originally drafted by Boston but is now a free agent because the Bruins didn't sign him over the past two years. He knows this is his final chance to show NHL scouts he has all the elements to perform at the professional level.

"It's never been a question of whether I can play but whether or not I'll be healthy enough to play," Rediker said. "I'm going to work my hardest and hopefully another team is interested. With knee surgery, it's a two-year healing process. It's been nine months so far, so it's going to get stronger."

His presence has noticeably helped the development of London's younger defencemen. For much of the season, he has been paired with Londoner Scott Aarssen and they always play against the opposition's top guns, like they did Sunday night against Oshawa's 15-year-old phenom John Tavares.

With Rediker on board, the Knights aren't forced to throw Ryan Martinelli, former first-round pick Steven Ferry, current first-rounder Corey Syvret and Andrew Wilkins into difficult situations.

When on- or off-ice situations come up, the rookies aren't afraid to ask the old fella questions.

"I think I'm a pretty easy-to-approach guy. I'm vocal and if someone has a question, I'm there to help," Rediker said. "I'm really happy with the way the guys have come along. We have a good group and we're only 15 games into the season. It's going to get better."

Many onlookers feel if the Knights are going to compete for another league championship this year GM Mark Hunter must acquire another defenceman. Rediker, at least, gives him some time to consider his options.

"Frank's a big part of what we do this year. No matter how many defencemen we use, we like to see our big guys play at least 18-22 minutes a game and he's in that category," assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu said.

For Rediker's part, he's just happy to be in any category, healthy enough to play and gorging on ice time.


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