Mason to watch draft from afar

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Steve Mason won't be anywhere near Vancouver where his name is expected to be called at the NHL draft this weekend.

"I'll probably go golfing -- it'll take my mind off it," the London Knights goalie said from his hometown of Oakville. "I'll go on the Internet and follow it a bit. It's a pretty exciting time. Everyone always follows where they're ranked and where they're expected to go. It's good motivation."

The 18-year-old, who's expected to take over London's starting job from the graduated Adam Dennis this fall, ended his rookie season with the Knights as the ninth-ranked goalie on central scouting's final predraft ranking -- second among OHLers behind Saginaw's Ryan Daniels.

The six-foot-three, 186-pounder was among 115 prospects who recently attended the NHL combine in Toronto -- a testing process that proved more mentally and physically draining than final exams at high school.

"I had 16 teams contact me and I had 20-minute interviews with each one," Mason said. "It was a three-day camp with a lot of testing and lifting weights. There wasn't any goalie-specific stuff but it was exhausting.

"At the end of the day, you just wanted to lie down in bed and go right to sleep."

After a shaky season-opener against Saginaw and a disheartening streak of 45 straight games as a backup, Mason's pro stock rose dramatically in the second half when he beat Peterborough and Kitchener in consecutive games while Dennis served a suspension.

Finishing with a 5-3 record in 12 appearances, Mason also appeared in the OHL championship series against the Petes after Dennis injured his knee, playing well despite the Knights' four-game defeat.

"Playing in the final was big for me because it showed I could help the team and be counted on in a pressure situation," Mason said. "NHL teams are looking at how you do in big games like that."

London veteran Trevor Kell, who wasn't signed by Chicago this year, is eligible to be picked again in the draft while forward Adam Perry and David Jarram are the Knights' other ranked players.

Knights inked

The Knights signed defenceman Kevin Bodker and forward Luke VanMoerkerke, a Tillsonburg native, to OHL contracts this week.

The 16-year-old Bodker, a six-foot-one, 190-pounder from Chesterfield, Mo., had three goals and 10 points with 44 penalty minutes in 31 games with the Dubuque Thunderbirds.

London's fourth-round pick is a friend and former teammate of Knights first-rounder Philip McRae.

VanMoerkerke, a six-foot-three, 205-pounder, played for Thorold in the Golden Horseshoe junior B league last season, collecting eights goals and 16 points with 51 penalty minutes in 61 games.

The 16-year-old was a sixth-round pick in 2005.


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