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When Brennan Othmann reunited with skating coach Lisa Clark three years ago at the age of 15, his confidence was dangerously low. NHL scouts had significant concern surrounding his skating...
When Brennan Othmann reunited with skating coach Lisa Clark three years ago at the age of 15, his confidence was dangerously low.
NHL scouts had significant concern surrounding his skating abilities and, as a result, Othmann was beginning to lose faith in himself. Othmann had fallen into bad skating habits, so his family suggested he get back to working with Clark, with whom he first started taking lessons when he was just 5 years old.
It ended up being the decision that put Othmann’s hockey career back on track, and ultimately led to him getting drafted 16th overall by the Rangers in the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft on Friday.
“She made me smile every day,” Othmann wrote in a testimonial for Clark, who said she was brought to tears by the details of his endorsement. “She made me want to go to power-skating. (Let’s admit it, most people dread power-skating, or skating with no pucks.)
“Every time I was on the ice with Lisa my desire and confidence grew more and more,” he said, “and then finally Lisa said, ‘Brennan, I want you to believe in yourself as much as I do.’ ”
Clark first started working with Othmann when he was in kindergarten. During his lunch breaks at school, Othmann would go to Luther Vipond Brooklin Memorial Arena in Whitby, Ontario, and eat with Clark before getting on the ice to train. He then would go back to finish out the school day.
From what Clark can remember, Othmann was the top listener in the group. He never fooled around and always had his eyes on her while she taught.
“This one time, I was explaining a drill and this kid was playing with the puck or something and he’s like, ‘Hey! She’s talking! Listen to her!’ ” Clark told The Post through a laugh over the phone on Saturday.
As Othmann grew up and became busier with hockey, however, he and his family lost touch with Clark. It wasn’t until 2018 that his mom, Lisa, reached out to Clark and said her son needed to get back on the ice with her.
Othmann had a standout 2018-19 season with the GTHL’s Don Mills Flyers U16 AAA, a team that went undefeated. Yet Othmann was repeatedly told he needed to work on his stride and posture. He was complimented on his edges, which he had worked on with Clark, but his overall skating was a point of concern.
Luckily, Clark was running a nine-week program with six hour-long sessions available per day. Othmann usually came on with the 12-1 p.m. group, but often finessed staying for another session.
“He would say, ‘Lisa, there’s some kids away in your next group, could I stay on for an extra hour?’ ” Clark said. “And I’d say, ‘Of course you can,’ like, are you kidding me? Even if we repeated the same drill, like remember that might be boring for some skaters, but after the second hour, he was better than the first hour, just because he got more repetition.”
Clark recalled how Othmann was skating hunched over when she began working with him again. She focused on training him to pick his body up and put more weight down on his legs, which allowed him to get more power in his stride. On her days off, Clark would go watch Othmann play so she was able to reference specific plays he made, analyze what else needed to be tweaked and make any other mental notes she could to help him improve.
But it wasn’t just the fundamentals that he needed help with, Othmann had to rebuild his confidence.
“Lisa was always the one person who said “Brennan, you can skate,” Othmann said.
After excelling in his rookie 2019-20 season with the Flint Firebirds, scoring 17 goals and 33 points in 55 games as a 16-year-old, Othmann ranked third in goals among all under-17 OHL players. In 2020-21 with EHC Olten in the second-tier Swiss League, Othmann posted 18 points in 34 games.
“You get tears in your eyes and you think, man, I started with this kid three years ago and even when he was 5 years old,” a choked-up Clark said of watching Othmann get drafted. “And then you watch them, you think about the struggles, and all the corrections and all the time and the effort that you both put into it — I don’t even know what to say.”
The Rangers made their remaining eight selections of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, beginning with center Jayden Grubbe at No. 65, a pick the organization received from the Sabres in the 2019 Jimmy Vesey trade.
Grubbe, a 6-foot-3 center from Calgary, had his 2020-21 WHL season — his first as captain — with the Red Deer Rebels cut short when he had ACL surgery in March. He said he has been skating since the start of July and is aiming to be ready by September.
“I’m just a competitive guy, I play an intense game,” Grubbe said of how he would describe himself. “The biggest thing for me is my compete and playing a big heavy physical game. I like to think of myself as a 200-foot center that just plays hard, gritty, intense.”
Day 2 of the draft also saw the Rangers trade up for the 75th-overall pick, which they used to draft center Ryder Korczak, by sending 80 and 176 to Washington. The Blueshirts also took forward Brody Lamb at 104, left winger Kalle Vaisanen at 106, goalie Talyn Boyko at 112 and Jaroslav Chmelar at 144.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Mollie Walker