Saginaw's Skellett turning heads

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Don't look now, Taylor Hall.

The guy breathing down your neck in the Ontario Hockey League scoring race is a twice-traded first-round pick who was passed over in the NHL draft and hadn't posted more than 45 points in his four previous seasons of major junior hockey.

"Better now than never," Saginaw Spirit overage forward Jordan Skellett said. "With the firepower Taylor's surrounded with in Windsor, you know it's going to take two or three points a night to keep up with those guys.

"That's a challenge every game. But I think our line is one of the most productive in the OHL."

It's a terrific trio Skellett had a hand in helping create.

The London native, who turns 20 on Sunday, already had discovered some nice on-ice chemistry with Whitby native Josh Shalla. But things really started cooking when they teamed up with 17-year-old raw Russian rookie Ivan Telegin.

"Ivan came here really with no English at all," Skellett said. "He's getting better now. He knows names.

"But he speaks hockey. We find a way. I told Todd (Spirit GM and head coach Todd Watson) early on, 'Put him with me.' "

Telegin already has 16 goals. He was the OHL's rookie of the month in October.

Shalla has 14 goals.

Slick Skellett is setting them up.

"I've scored goals but I've always really been more of a playmaker," he said.

Skellett always has been a natural athlete. He grew up in a sporting household.

His mother Nicole Sanchez was a tremendous basketball player. His dad Jason spent parts of five seasons in the OHL with London, Belleville, Hamilton and Owen Sound.

Jason was not quite 18 when he became a father.

"He played two more years after I was born," Jordan said. "He still watches the game closely and gives me tips. He was a defenceman, though, so he was a different kind of player than I am."

And Jordan is finally the dynamic offensive threat everyone thought he'd be when the Mississauga IceDogs drafted him.

He attended Vancouver Canucks tryout camp last year. He was with the Edmonton Oilers this go-round.

"They just said play your offensive game and don't slack in the defensive zone," Skellett said. "You're just trying to help the team win. It's been fun."

And the hunt for Hall is clearly on.

Around the O

Unlike their Quebec counterpart, the OHL has yet to cancel a game this season because of the H1N1 flu .... Kitchener Rangers defenceman Ben Fanelli is out of hospital, back home and feeling more like himself after the big hit he took from banished Erie forward Michael Liambas ... If Mickey Renaud wasn't enough, a few more reminders this month of how serious heart issues must be treated. Soo forward James Livingston missed a bunch of games because doctors were concerned about an increased heart rate, and veteran OHL referee Matt Parlette left a contest in London to be examined for a heart condition much like Maple Leafs rookie goalie Jonas Gustavsson had this season.

RYAN.PYETTE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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