Sean Day is refining his skill set and the defensive aspects of his game with the Windsor Spitfires. (Aaron Bell/CHL Images)
In three seasons with the Mississauga Steelheads, it was clear that he had a lot of talent, but he struggled to find his identity as a defenceman and faced a lot of scrutiny from many who didn’t feel he lived up to the “exceptional status” label he was given in 2013.
Even when he was chosen by the New York Rangers in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft, Sportsnet called it an “exceptional gamble.”
But getting drafted helped him relax and the trade to the Spitfires in October was even more liberating.
“When I was in Mississauga, they had me playing a certain way and when I came here, they just re-evaluated my game and told me I could be the player I thought I was,” Day said Saturday afternoon following Friday’s 3-2 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs to start the tournament.
“They want me up in the rush a lot more, playing an offensive role, but they’re adding defensive sides to my game that I didn’t have in Mississauga. The maturity level in my game rose a lot when I came here with (Windsor coach Rocky Thompson) and he’s done a lot for me.”
Day has excelled on a Windsor team that boasts Mikhail Sergachev, Logan Stanley and Jalen Chatfield in its defensive core.
He set career highs in points (37) and goals (15), but more importantly, Thompson says he’s been a lot more responsible when playing without the puck.
“It was an agenda for us and it’s an agenda for the New York Rangers who drafted and signed him,” Thompson said.
“Sean has a great foundation as a hockey player, great skill, great size, he skates well. He’s a really good kid, his teammates love him in the dressing room and he has a great sense of humour. There’s a lot of great qualities about him.”
Windsor had a strong season by most standards, but was in the middle of the pack in fifth place of an ultra competitive Western Conference.
That gave them a first-round matchup with the 2016 Memorial Cup champion London Knights to start the OHL playoffs.
Windsor had a 3-1 lead in that series before London came back to take it in seven games.
That gave the Spitfires a six-week hiatus and they were working hard at practice through five of them.
“You can train as much as you want, but (without games), you’re never in that high level of conditioning I don’t think,” Day said.
“I think you could see it with us in those first 10 minutes (Friday) and then after that, we did really well just taking it to them.”
While some players can sense a trade looming from discussions with their general manager or agent, Day said the trade to Windsor came about pretty quickly.
It eventually clicked in that he’d get an automatic shot at playing for the Memorial Cup and he’s looking to take full advantage.
“My other best friend Max Jones won one last year and he said it was the coolest thing ever until probably the Stanley Cup,” he said. “Hearing all of that, I was like let’s do this.”Back to Top
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