Joe Morrow Making Big Strides This Season

10PackLogoWeb.jpgBy: Kristina Renda

In 41 games as a rookie last season, defenseman Joe Morrow had seven points. This year he’d eclipsed that number by the end of October.

While much of the attention this season has been focused on the team’s draft-eligible players, Morrow has been quietly putting together a very good sophomore campaign.

“The opportunity I’ve been getting is key. The coaches believe in me more this year so they give me some power play time, some penalty kill time…they get me out there when they can,” he said. “Confidence is a big factor in hockey.”

Of course, it’s been more than just opportunity and confidence that have improved Morrow’s play this season. He worked hard in the off-season to build on fundamentals like shooting and skating to improve his reaction time on the ice.

The offensive numbers speak for themselves: seven goals, 22 assists and 29 total points, including 11 on the power play. But his offseason work helped his play in the defensive end as well.

“A split second can mean the difference between a goal or clearing the puck out of your zone,” said Morrow of adjusting to the speed of the WHL.

It’s those split seconds that Morrow is capitalizing on, improving his +/- by 25 points this season, going from -7 last season to +18 now.

His play this season has turned heads throughout the WHL, and is putting him on the NHL radar. Because of a late birthday (December 9), Morrow doesn’t become eligible for the NHL draft until 2011, and sees next year as an opportunity for him to continue pushing himself to reach his full potential.

“It’s pretty beneficial for me to have a whole extra year to improve on everything I can when people my age are getting drafted this year. I can use it as an opportunity to improve and come back twice as good next year,” he said. “My age, up until this point, has been a setback to me because people think you’re not as mature as [the older players] or you haven’t grown up yet. I’ve made it through that and I’m proud of that, but from this point on it’s pretty beneficial for me to have an extra year to improve on everything I can.”

However, getting drafted isn’t Morrow’s main motivation for striving to succeed on the ice. He would attribute that to his family.

“They’ve been behind me 110% since day one,” he said.

Morrow has many relatives who watch every game up north via the internet. His father and sister also come down to support him in the stands every now and then.

“They definitely give me all the motivation I need.”

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