Aaron Kerr to Showcase skills

IROQUOIS FALLS - Abitibi Eskimos forward Aaron Kerr is one of 15 Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League players who have been chosen to take part in the first-ever Ontario Summer Select Showcase, Aug. 10-11.

The only Eskimos selected, Kerr is pumped about the opportunity to take part in the event.

“To be invited to that camp and be able to try and make that team is obviously an honour,” he said.

“I worked hard last season and I am just happy that I have this opportunity.”

The other NOJHLers selected include Blind River Beavers forwards Tyson MacLeod and Brandon Bazinet; Elliot Lake Bobcats forward Dustin Cordeiro; Espanola forwards Ryan Theriault and Jason Bednarski, as well as defenceman Nathan Campbell; Kirkland Lake Gold Miners defenceman Jeremy Picard-Fiset and forwards Tanner Lafrance and Steven Babin; Soo Thunderbirds goalie Joel Horodziejczyk and forward Anthony Miller; and Sudbury Nickel Barons defenceman Bradley Bell and forwards Giovanni Foschia and August Jarecki.

Kerr does not know all his fellow NOJHLers selected, but he is familiar with a few of them.

“Tanner Lafrance, Brandon Bazinet and Bradley Bell, I?have played with two of them before and I know Bazinet,” he said.

“I know they are very good players and they deserve to be there, so it should be fun.”

Kerr, who won’t turn 17 until Oct. 7, is one of the youngest players selected to the 19 and under roster.

In his rookie season with the Eskimos, in 2012-13, Kerr scored 22 goals and added 14 assists in 46 regular season games, while recording 21 penalty minutes.

He added an assist in four playoff games.

“I have been working hard this summer, so hopefully I can go in there and make a good first impression,” Kerr said.

“I have been waking up every morning and going to the gym, working out with guys like Mark Katic.

“I have been focusing on getting bigger and putting on some pounds and now I have been doing a little conditioning, working on hockey skills, like stickhandling, all that stuff.

“I think I have pretty good skating ability, so I don’t think I need too much work there.”

Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne has encounted Kerr quite a few times at the gym this summer and has been impressed with the development of the team’s young forward.

“This kid has progressed so much since last year, so I think it’s a great opportunity for him,” he said.

There is a chance, of course, that Kerr won’t be in an Eskimos uniform this season, as he will be attending training camp with the?Ontario Hockey League’s Owen Sound Attack.

“I hope we don’t get to see him this year,” Gagne said, acknowledging that he would be happy to see Kerr crack the Attack roster.

“We always want to develop the player and see him get to the next level. That’s pretty much our objective, to get them to play at the next level.”

Most Eskimos fans, on the other hand, while wishing Kerr all the best, are hoping he calls the Igloo (Jus Jordan Arena) home for at least one more season.

“He is a beautiful skater,” Gagne said.

“He is a kid who was playing on the third, or fourth line when we first started the season, but with other players moving in and out of the lineup he was on our first or second line.

“As the season progressed, he started to play a little bit more physical, but now that he has put on a little bit of weight … his muscle mass on the upper level is incredible … which will allow him to play a little bit more physical and take the body when he has to.

“I think that will be another plus for his confidence.”