With six weeks remaining in their regular season schedule, the Kanata Lasers have already more than doubled the amount of wins they registered last season.
One of the main reasons for the Lasers’ improved fortunes has been the stellar play of rookie Anand Oberoi, a 17-year-old goalie.
Oberoi’s solid efforts were rewarded this past week when he was selected to compete in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Prospects Game held in Cornwall.
Oberoi was one of nine Central Canada Hockey League players that participated on the Team East squad.
Team West, comprised of players from four western Canadian Junior A leagues, eked out a 4-3 victory in the match last Wednesday.
The contest featured 40 players who are eligible for the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft this June. Representatives from Central Scouting had provided input on which players most deserved to compete in the game.
“It was a really fun experience,” said Oberoi, the Team East starter who played the first half of the match and allowed two goals. “And it was great to see the talent from all over the country.”
Oberoi made 17 saves in his stint between the pipes. But he was arguably his toughest critic.
“Personally I thought I could have done two goals better,” he said. “If you talk to any goalie they’ll tell you that with any of the goals they let in.”
Oberoi and others competing in the game were showcasing their talents in front of numerous talent seekers. More than 150 representatives from the NHL, Major Junior franchises as well as Canadian and American universities were among those in attendance.
“I knew they’d be there but I didn’t know how many would be there,” Oberoi said of the scouts. “When I got on the ice though I didn’t pay attention to that much.”
Besides the CCHL, Team East included players from the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, Quebec Junior Hockey League and Maritime Hockey League.
Though no practices were staged beforehand and despite the fact he didn’t know many of his teammates, Oberoi said he felt right at home.
“We’re all junior hockey players,” he said. “We’re similar people. And the jokes that they say in junior hockey dressing rooms in Ottawa are the same jokes they say in junior hockey dressing rooms in Toronto.”
Oberoi has compiled a 13-15-2-2 record and 3.50 goals-against average in 36 appearances with the Lasers this season. He was also called up to play one game for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters in November.
Kanata has won 18 games thus far, a vast improvement on its disappointing seven-win campaign of a year ago.
With a dozen matches remaining in their regular season, the Lasers are currently ninth in the overall CCHL standings. They are two points behind the Nepean Raiders, who are occupying the eighth and final postseason position.
“I’m really confident in our group,” Oberoi said. “I think with a few
wins here and there, we can bump up a few spots and get a playoff spot.”
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