TriPen Osprey Midget AAA goaltender Riley Mercer had a tremendous rookie season in the NL Major Midget Hockey league this past season, which has propelled the CBN native into a top-5 round ranking by QMJHL Central Scouting. The middle child in the Mercer household took some time this week to shoot the breeze with Coach AP about the upcoming draft, among other things that you'll see below. Grab a beverage and enjoy.
AP: Riley you went from playing at the Bantam AAA level to the Major Midget level this past season. Lets touch on the jump from one level to the next, and what the adjustment was like for you as a goalie
Mercer: "The shooters were a little smarter and more educated, but for the most part, it wasn't as big of an adjustment as I thought it was going to be. Being more focused and aware was something that I worked on a lot last summer which helped with the transition; goaltending is about technique, fundamentals and positioning, which don't change from level to level and I spend a lot of time working on those things"
AP: This brings me into my next question - you spend a lot of time working with #XGoalie Coach Marek Benda. I know the dude speaks in broken english (laughs), but (Marek) Bender has done some great things with goalies from the ECHL Growlers right on down. Describe what he's like as a coach and what he's done for your game
Mercer: I had a big summer with Marek last year - it was great to have my brother (Dawson) out taking shots on me while Marek would put me through drills. Marek knows his stuff and when I'm on the ice with him, I just try and be a sponge and absorb as much as I can; he has a great knowledge of the game.
Side comment from AP: Marek's shooting has apparently improved, which is really hard to believe... Benda has been known to chop the puck into a square, hands like a grave digger
AP: Your brother (Dawson) is a consensus first round pick in the upcoming NHL draft (no big deal) and your sister (Jessica) plays at the AAA female level. Describe what growing up in a hockey household was like for you and what your relationship is like with your siblings. I'm assuming there were some intense street hockey games!
Mercer: Dawson and I FaceTime every other night when he's away. Right now it's pretty competitive between him and I, especially in the basement where we are currently working out. Jess is always involved, too. Growing up, we'd play a lot of street hockey as a family and needless to say, a couple of nets were destroyed (laughs). I wouldn't be where I am today without my siblings.
AP: Lets get some draft predictions here - what round, what pick, and to what team does Dawson Mercer go to in the upcoming NHL Draft? My pick is Round 1, Pick 13 to the New York Rangers. If Chris Morehouse (NYR director of North American Scouting) calls the house, tell him I said that my back is still sore from carrying him his rookie year of junior (laughs)
Mercer: I'm not sure what teams are picking where, but I'm going to guess somewhere in round 1 in the middle of the round hopefully.
Riley's name will likely be called at the upcoming QMJHL Midget draft, which will take place on Friday, June 5 through Saturday, June 6 (online). Check out the Q League's YouTube page on June 5 to watch the first round live ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY1kEIeX3I2vrLNtHRx3A7Q ) , while rounds 2 through 14 will be accessible online via the QMJHL web site ( www.theqmjhl.ca , you're welcome). AP believes the team that drafted him 1,986th overall in the 2001 Q Draft (Halifax) will draft Mercer in Round 2 (assuming they have picks in that round).... we will have to wait and see!