Moncton Wildcats defenseman Brandon Gormley is enjoying the extra time in the spotlight.
After helping his team win the QMJHL title Monday and earn a berth in the Memorial Cup, even more attention will be coming Gormley's way as he continues to make his case to be a top pick at the 2010 Entry Draft, June 25-26 in Los Angeles.
Shortly after hoisting the President's Cup on home ice following a 7-4 win against the Saint John Sea Dogs in the first-ever all-New Brunswick QMJHL final, Gormley was asked what he thinks will be the more exciting moment -- winning the league title or hearing his name called at the draft.
"This for sure right now," said Gormley, surrounded by family, friends and fans in the on-ice celebration. "We'll take it one step at a time. This is huge for the team, huge for us and huge for our fans. They've been great."
Gormley, the sixth-ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, won the Michael Bossy Trophy as the top pro prospect in the QMJHL. Sea Dogs forward Stanislav Galiev was a finalist for that award; he's No. 20 in the Central Scouting's rankings.
Gormley relished the chance to showcase his wares on the league's biggest stage against another top prospect.
"It's a lot of fun. Obviously when you're playing this time of year, it's good for your development. It's a good challenge for myself to be playing in this situation," Gormley said. "It's definitely an extra little boost to be able to show all the scouts what you've got."
Those scouts will be tuning in starting May 14, when the Memorial Cup opens with the defending champion Windsor Spitfires, who won the OHL title, facing the host Brandon Wheat Kings. Moncton's first game is May 15, when they face the Calgary Hitmen, champions of the WHL. All games from the Memorial Cup will be televised by the NHL Network in the U.S. and Rogers Sportsnet in Canada.
Gormley had the better series of the two, scoring 14 seconds into Game 1, and adding 2 assists to bring his playoff total to 17 points. He and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect David Savard often matched up against Galiev, who led all QMJHL rookies with 19 playoff points, but was held pointless during the final. The Russian-born forward may have been showing signs of fatigue, but he also showed flashes of the game-changing skill he displayed all season long.
"He's a great player. He's got a lot of skill over there and you've got to watch him. He can go dangle you if you're not on your toes," Gormley said. "You've got to be on your toes at all times when he's out there."
Asked to describe his feeling on the other side of the rink, Galiev summed it up in one word: "Sad."
Galiev's sadness had nothing to do with his own personal statistics, but that his team fell short and the same group never will be together again.
"I don't worry about my points, I just want to win every game and work hard," Galiev said.
Although he was disappointed, he thinks the experience of battling through a championship series only will help his development.
"It's the final; it's the best games of the year. I may not have a chance later to play in a final, so you want to play hard and play your best game," Galiev said. "It's a good experience because we have young guys in our group. It's good for the future. We know we have to work hard every game."
Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant, who has two other forwards on the draft radar in Danick Gauthier (No. 147 in Central Scouting's rankings) and Stephen MacAulay (No. 85), agrees the experience only will be a positive.
"We'd sure like to be on the ice celebrating a championship, but we learned a lot this season," Gallant said. "It's definitely going to help them be better in the future to get to the finals; it's really good for the kids. Between exhibition games and playoff games, I think we've played 97 games; it's a great experience for them."
Another draft-eligible player who may have improved his stock is Slovakian-born forward Marek Hrivik of the Wildcats. He had 3 goals and 5 points in the final, and 17 playoff points overall.