|Aaron Bell/OHL Images|
After a great rookie season in 2010, Geoffrey was a 4th round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was never offered a contract from Tampa and finished out his OHL career with Oshawa before moving on to Acadia (where he now plays in the CIS). Having gone through ups and downs during his hockey career, Geoffrey has been a positive influence over Thomas thus far. "Geoffrey’s influence on my hockey career has been substantial. Whenever I need advice, or just bounce something off him he’s always there," says Thomas. "In a nutshell he has said that I should just play the game, because everything else is out of my control," continues Schemitsch.
Of course by "everything else," Thomas is referring to the NHL Entry Draft. He is first time eligible this year and is having a very strong season for the Attack. Currently ranked 98th by NHL Central Scouting, Schemitsch's value for the draft is trending upward and he looks like a possible top 3 round selection in 2015. In fact, Thomas's 13 goals equals the amount that his brother scored over his entire four year OHL career. And his 43 points defeats Geoffrey's personal season best of 40. With his brother drafted 96th overall, a top 3 round selection would give Thomas bragging rights over what he calls "a friendly rivalry."
So what will Thomas bring to the NHL team that drafts him? "I have a high hockey IQ, make a good first pass, read the play well, and have a good stick," says Schemitsch. He does admit that his skating is an area that requires improvement though. When you've got a 6'4 defender with a good head for the game and offensive ability, he's bound to have more fans than detractors among NHL scouts. In particular, his progression as a player in his own end has been incredibly impressive considering that he's only played defence for a few years (after switching from forward in minor midget).
For now though, Thomas's focus is on trying to bring home an OHL Championship to Owen Sound, just as his brother did in 2011. "I try not to think about getting drafted or anything I can’t control. I’m just focusing on doing everything I can do to contribute to the team and help us be successful," says Schemitsch. Currently the Attack are fighting for spots 4 through 6 in the Western Conference, which means that a potential second round match up against powerhouse Sault Ste. Marie looks inevitable (should they advance past the first round of course). Thanks in part to a great leadership group and a hard working attitude, the Attack should be feared as an underdog by any Western Conference team. "We have a belief in our room that when we are at our best we are playing Owen Sound Attack hockey. It is our identity. When we do that as a team we are a tough team to play against. When we play our game we give ourselves a shot to compete against the tougher teams in our conference."
|Aaron Bell/OHL Images|
Regardless of how this year plays out, the name Schemitsch will always be synonymous with good hockey; with playoff hockey in Owen Sound. The question is, will Thomas be able to match Geoffrey's ability to bring a Championship to Grey County? We've got a few years (or playoff appearances) to find out.
Otten - You still took on a pretty big role in Owen Sound as a rookie last year. What was the biggest adjustment for you coming from playing midget and a few games at Junior A level?
Schemitsch - I’d have to say the biggest adjustments coming in from midget and a few games of Junior A, was the size and strength of the players, and the speed of the game. These factors were magnified because I moved from forward to defense half way through minor midget because a defenseman left the team. In minor hockey players are born in the same year, whereas in this league players can be up to 5 years older and therefore size and strength differences are not as dramatic in minor hockey. The game in the OHL is also faster and played at higher skill level. Another adjustment was being away from home and not seeing family and friends was definitely a difficult adjustment. However, my billets and teammates have been awesome so that was a smooth transition.
Otten - So what's been the biggest difference for you this year, your 2nd in the OHL? Your offensive numbers have certainly improved dramatically.
Schemitsch - The biggest difference for me this year has been the increased responsibility I’ve been given to play in key situations.
Otten - Everyone talks about the Greyhounds and Otters in the West. Do you feel like the Attack are being underrated going into the playoffs, considering you guys can still grab the 4th seed?
Schemitsch - We have a belief in our room that when we are at our best we are playing Owen Sound Attack hockey. It is our identity. When we do that as a team we are a tough team to play against. When we play our game we give ourselves a shot to compete against the tougher teams in our conference.
Otten - How cool was it to get a chance to play for Owen Sound after your brother starred for the Attack (I actually interviewed him and wrote a piece on him too in his draft year)?
Schemitsch - It was great to have Geoffrey play for the attack (and win an OHL championship) for two and half years, and then be drafted by them. I felt a little more comfortable knowing a few of the guys through him. He had nothing but positive things to say about the organization, so it was an easy decision to sign with Owen Sound.
Otten - How influential has Geoffrey been for your hockey career thus far?
Schemitsch - Geoffrey’s influence on my hockey career has been substantial. Whenever I need advice, or just bounce something off him he’s always there.
Otten - Has he given you any advice in regards to the draft, considering he was once a 4th rounder? In particular, has he tried to help you prepare for a chance at the professional level, since he never signed that ELC and moved on to the next level?
Schemitsch - Yes, Geoffrey has given me advice. In a nutshell he has said that I should just play the game, because everything else is out of my control.
Otten - How are you guys similar and different players (other than the obvious size differences)?
Schemitsch - Yes, there is an obvious size difference, but similarities as well. I think we both have a high hockey IQ and read the ice well. We both make a good first pass. I think we are both good teammates and put the team on the ice first before ourselves. Geoffrey is a smooth skater, but I have a heavier shot and a bit of a scoring touch (from being a forward previously) that he doesn’t.
Otten - Do you guys have a little rivalry going in the sense that you're trying to get drafted higher than he was (in the NHL)?
Schemitsch - Geoffrey and I are each other’s biggest fans. To this day, I watch the games he plays for Acadia University when I can, and follow the team. We are brothers and we are close, so yes, there is a friendly rivalry going on. Having said that, I’m very happy for and proud of everything my brother has accomplished. I try not to think about getting drafted or anything I can’t control. I’m just focusing on doing everything I can do to contribute to the team and help us be successful.
Otten - If I were to ask an NHL scout about your biggest strengths as a player, what do you think they would say?
Schemitsch - I think an NHL scout would say that I have a high hockey IQ, make a good first pass, read the play well, and have a good stick.
Otten - Conversely, what would they say if I asked them about your biggest weaknesses, or what you need to improve upon?
Schemitsch - I think an NHL scout would say that I need to continue to work on my skating, and continually try to get stronger.
Otten - Is there a player in the NHL that you really try to model your game after? Maybe a guy you'd love to be compared to?
Schemitsch - I think a player in the NHL that I try to model my game after Alex Pietrangelo. He’s a player who has an impact on the game in all areas of the ice. He is responsible defensively and contributes offensively. He is a smart puck moving defenseman.
Otten - I remember talking to your brother about him being a huge Leaf fan. Did you grow up the same? If so, how do you feel about the losing right now?
Schemitsch - Growing up, my family and I were, and still are huge leafs fans.
Otten - Who's the toughest forward to go up against in the OHL (If it's Connor McDavid, maybe you could give us a second one)?
Schemitsch - After Connor McDavid, I’d have to say Max Domi. He is very quick shifty and highly skilled.
Otten - Last question. I asked this one to your brother over 5 years ago. Curious to hear your answer. Choose one. Stanley Cup. Memorial Cup. Gold Medal.
Schemitsch - Presently, I want to win the Memorial Cup with the Owen Sound Attack. This organization and fabulous fan base deserve that much. However, I have to go with winning the Stanley Cup. It’s something you dream of.
Thanks to Thomas Schemitsch and Brent Fisher for making this article possible. If you're curious, be sure to check out my feature and Q & A with Geoffrey Schemitsch from his NHL draft year (6 years ago). You can find that <HERE>