Matt Forchuk isn’t actually waiting by his phone. He is too busy scoring and setting up goals on the ice, but he would like it to ring.
The 19-year-old — his birthday is Dec. 28 — co-captain of the Canmore Eagles is doing his best to attract the attention of U.S. college scouts in his final season of junior A hockey. And doing his best means scoring and setting up goals in a record-breaking manner.
“I am obviously really happy with the way I am producing. I am at the top of my game right now,” said Forchuk following a four-point (1G-3A) game in a 6-3 win over the Olds Grizzlys on Saturday.
The native of Okotoks has recorded points in all 10 Alberta Junior Hockey League games he has played this season and has taken over the league lead in points with 23 (7G-16A).
He is coming off a September that made him the AJHL player of the month. The 5-foot-9, 170-lb. centre plays much bigger than his size indicates and counted 13 points (5G-8A) in seven September games, opening the season with a four-point (2G-2A) game against the Calgary Mustangs on Sept. 16 — a 6-0 Canmore win.
He has not slowed down since that opening game, and opposition defenders that have tried to track him down can attest to that. Speedy and shifty, he has shown a knack for finding the open spaces and for putting the puck on his linemates’ sticks as they cruise into an open spot on the ice.
Those linemates include Logan Ferguson and Colby Livingstone, who are being pulled right along into the upper echelons of league scoring. Forchuk’s linemates are tied for third in league scoring, each with 17 points: Ferguson has nine goals and eight assists and Livingstone has six goals and 11 assists.
Forchuk opened his October account in even more stellar fashion than the month in which he was named the AJHL’s top performer. He has counted 10 points (2G-8A) in three games: One goal and two assists in an 8-0 win over the Calgary Mustangs on Oct. 4; Three helpers in an 8-5 loss to the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Friday; One goal and three assists against Olds.He was named the AJHL player of the week ending Oct. 9 on Tuesday.
Only three other players in all of Canadian junior A hockey are scoring at a pace equal to Forchuk: Brayden Stortz of the Wellington Dukes (Ontario Junior Hockey League) has 31 points (10G-21A) through 12 games; Braedan Cross of the Cochrane Crunch of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League has 24 points (12G-12A); Brendan Harris of the Wenatchee Wild (B.C. Hockey League) also has 23 points (5G-18A) through nine games.
Protracting Forchuk’s pace of 2.30 points per game would have the third-year Eagle finishing the season with 138 points (42G-96A), easily eclipsing the team’s single-season points record set by Mark Bomersback at 114 points (46G-68A) in the 2002-03 season. Bomersback also won the league scoring title that season. Only five players from the entire league have cracked the 100-point plateau in 14 AJHL seasons since Bomersback’s league-leading feat, and none of those players have matched the former Eagle’s tally.
The gaudy scoring record Forchuk is chasing, though, is a long way off and would truly be a remarkable feat as league scoring records are rarely even considered a feasible goal in this current age of defence-first hockey.
When it comes to playing without the puck, Forchuk is not lacking that either, often seen taking his defensive responsibilities quite seriously, not afraid to drive the point home on opposition players. He was tagged for 104 penalty minutes last season while asserting his presence on the ice. He has a more tame 10 minutes this season.
For Forchuk, the 2015-16 season was a breakout year offensively, counting 72 points (27G-45A). He would tie Ferguson (22G-50A) for the team lead in points. The duo would finish tied for fourth overall in the AJHL.
While Ferguson would sign an offer sheet with Holy Cross (Worcester, Mass., NCAA Div. 1) last season, Forchuk is still looking for that elusive college scholarship. Not that there is a lack of interest, he talked to plenty of scouts from both south and north of the border during the AJHL Showcase held in Camrose at the end of September.
“I talked to lots of schools but I have not got any offers yet,” said Forchuk, who put himself through another rigorous off-season training program to be prepared for this season. “I will still keep pushing for that and get a scholarship as soon as possible.”
Forchuk is not sure what is holding him back, it might be his application to the education side which he says “I might have to work a bit harder at” or proving himself by “maybe getting more points”.
Which brings us back to the waiting game. If he’s away from the phone, he promises to call back after he finishes putting the final touches on another scoring feat — hopefully it will be the one that finally takes his game to an NCAA school next fall.
Camore hosts the Whitecourt Wolverines on Thursday (7 p.m., Canmore Recreation Centre).
EAGLES NEST: Livingstone has already eclipsed last season’s points totals of seven (3G-4A in 18 GP). … Adam Tisdale scored twice in both weekend games — Sherwood Park on Friday and Olds on Saturday — and now has six for the season. … The Eagles lead the AJHL in offence with 48 goals — an average of 4.8 per game — but the team still has plenty of work to do on the defensive side of the puck having allowed 38 goals, ninth best in the 16-team league. … The Eagles begin the week in fifth place in the AJHL South Division with a record of 5-4-1. … Other Canmore games this week include at the Brooks Bandits on Friday (7 p.m., Centennial Regional Arena) and home versus the Camrose Kodiaks on Tuesday (7 p.m., Canmore Rec Centre). … For full game reports check out the Crag & Canyon online at thecragandcanyon.ca after each Canmore Eagles home and away game.
For more from Russ at the Crag and Canyon: http://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/2016/10/11/forchuk-hoping-next-phone-call-sets-his-future