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NHL ahead for Kirkpatrick? Coach can’t see why not

It’s getting harder and harder to continue ignoring Michael Kirkpatrick.

It’s getting harder and harder to continue ignoring Michael Kirkpatrick.

The 19-year-old Saint John Sea Dogs centre has risen to the forefront in the QMJHL playoffs, leading all scorers with 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points in 18 games. It’s impressive stuff for a player who was once passed over in the Q draft and who has been ignored in consecutive NHL drafts.

“Kirky’s picked it up to another level,” Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “He’s been consistent every game for us, he’s been a top player all season, and his power-play work and penalty-killing have been second to none. He’s been getting it done.”

Kirkpatrick, a North Sydney native who lived in Hammonds Plains when he starred for the Dartmouth Subways major midgets in 2005-06, also has a plus-10 rating and a 55.6 faceoff percentage.

He had a tryout with the Minnesota Wild last fall and is eligible for the NHL draft again this summer. Gallant said Kirkpatrick has a chance to follow in the footsteps of his teammates, Mike Hoffman and Nicholas Petersen. Both were drafted last summer as 19-year-olds and could sign three-year NHL contracts in the next few weeks.

“He’s in the same boat (as them) and if he’s not catching the eye of people, there’s something wrong,” Gallant said.

“He’s played very well for us and he can take motivation from (Hoffman and Petersen).”

The Sea Dogs trail the Moncton Wildcats 2-1 in the best-of-seven QMJHL final and are on the road for Game 4 on Friday at 7:35 p.m.

 
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