Austin Watson powering up draft boards
Austin Watson was only doing what Austin Watson does. Midway through the third period of the Jan. 20 CHL prospects game in Windsor, Ontario, Team Cherry, up by a goal, took two straight penalties and went down five men to three. On the bench, Watson's former teammate Taylor Hall begged Cherry's assistant coach Brian Kilrea to put Watson out for the kill. "I told Killer, you might not know this guy, but he blocks shots like nobody's business," Hall said after the game. "He's the best shot-blocker in the OHL, maybe the CHL. He's fearless."
Watson blocked a pair of shots on the penalty kill, one of which hit him squarely on the left ankle, breaking it at the joint. Team Cherry won the game, 4-2, but Watson's bum wheel would require surgery and he'd miss a month. It was a rough break for kid in his draft year who had recently waived a no-trade clause to be shipped from the defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires to the Peterborough Petes. "Waiving that no-trade clause was the hardest thing I've had to do in my hockey career," Watson says. "I loved it in Windsor, but from a hockey standpoint, Peterborough was going to give me a great opportunity to play a larger role in the team's success, and I had to take that opportunity to prove I can be one of those players."
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