By Jesse Michael for the Canadian Hockey League
Flying under the radar outside of major junior hockey circles, Val-d’Or Foreurs’ forward and 2013 NHL Entry Draft prospect Anthony Mantha is starting to make a name for himself.
The 18-year old from Longueuil, Quebec is among the QMJHL’s top scorers with 15 goals and 13 assists through 15 games large in part to his four goal effort recently against the Rimouski Océanic which capped off an impressive stretch where he scored 11 goals in five straight games.
His improved play this season, coupled with being named to Canada’s Under-18 tournament team last season, gave Hockey Canada and Team QMJHL coach André Tourigny a strong argument to select Mantha for the SUBWAY Super Series roster.
Mantha was, safe to say, ecstatic when he heard the good news.
“It was a personal goal,” he said in an interview last week. “I worked hard every day to get here. Just to be a part of the team, it’s a pretty nice honour. Who wouldn’t want to be able to represent our league and be a part of this [SUBWAY Super Series]?”
Along with Mantha, representing the hometown Foreurs’ is undrafted forward Samuel Henley, and fellow 2013 draft eligible defenseman Matt Murphy, both of whom will be playing in their first SUBWAY Super Series as well.
“We all know each other,” said Mantha. “And whether we’re on the same line or not it doesn’t matter; we’ll be on the same team and I feel that’s important.”
Two other familiar faces will be on the ice with Mantha and his Foreurs teammates come game time. Both defenseman Artem Sergeev , and Mantha’s line mate, Anton Zlobin (173rd Overall – Pittsburgh Penguins) will suit up for the Russians.
Mantha is looking forward to the matchup, however, he still has focus of what is important in the two-game miniseries between his teammates turned rivals.
“We’ll be against two Russians from our home team, both Artem and Anton, so it will be a little matchup and we’ll have fun with it,” said a laughing Mantha. “But at the same time it will be intense and we’ll be going for the win.”
This will be the second time in the history of the ten year event that Val-d’Or will be the host town.
The first, in 2006, saw a sold-out crowd of 2,300 people pack the Centre Air Creebec, and saw a thrilling 4-3 victory for Team QMJHL. The star of the game was Russian goaltender Ilya Proskuryakov, who stopped 37 of 41 team QMJHL shots faced.
With the success of that event in the back of the organizer’s collective memory, and the quality of players that the Foreurs possess, it was inevitable that the series would return to Val-d’Or.
It’s something that Mantha believes was the right move, and that the town will be fully supportive of not only their own, but the entire event.
“2,300 people is what we can get in the stands,” he said. “With the three players from Val-d’Or [on Team QMJHL], the people will all be coming and they’ll be behind me and our team the whole way.”
Game two can be seen Wednesday, November 7. It will be broadcast live nationally on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.