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The Halifax Mooseheads have talented players at every position this year.
They are deep up front and on defence and Zachary Fucale is a proven winner in goal. But when former team captains Cameron Critchlow and Travis Randell moved on at the end of last season, the Mooseheads were left with a considerable void in the leadership department.
One player head coach Dominique Ducharme hopes can fill that role is Konrad Abeltshauser. The 20-year-old defenceman is entering his fourth year in the QMJHL and is a quiet leader in the dressing room. Ducharme said every player on the team respects the six-foot-five German defender because of his low maintenance personality and consistent work ethic. It also helps that he's one of the top blueiners in the league.
“He can play in every situation," Ducharme said. "He’s really smart so he can adapt. He can play against the best forwards on the other side, he can run the power play, he kills penalties and he can be out there at the end of the game. But it’s also the way he conducts himself off the ice. He’s always doing extra work and he really takes care of himself like a pro. He’s got great habits and it’s a great example for our young guys and everyone on the team.”
After posting 25 points in 48 games as a Quebec league rookie in 2009-10 and 27 points in 58 games as a sophomore, Abeltshauser broke out last year. He produced 44 points in 57 regular season games and added 16 points in 15 playoff games. He also went from seasons of minus-27 in 2009-10 and minus-37 in 2010-11 to a team-best plus-17 last year.
Following a run to the third round in last year's playoffs, Abeltshauser signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks and fully expected to make the jump to minor pro hockey this year. But when the Sharks informed him over the summer he would spend one more season in major junior, Abeltshauser looked at it as a challenge to be an important leader on a team many believe could win a league title.
“I’m really looking forward to that," said Abeltshauser, picked in the sixth round (163rd overall) by the Sharks in 2010. "We have a good team and we just have to lead it the right way. With all that skill and all the hard-working players we have on this team, we should be able to compete against every team in the country.”
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