Gazing out at the assembled players on the ice as they begin the scrimmage that will round out the second half of practice of the third day of camp, one player is perhaps easy to spot. Anthony Louis is small in stature. His height is listed as 5’7”, and he is indeed the shortest player on the preliminary roster being evaluated in Boston as the U.S. National Junior Team training camp continues.
Perhaps the first thing that catches the eye is his hair as it escapes out around his helmet. In fact, when asked about Louis after practice, Head Coach Mark Osiecki did mention Louis’ mane.
“I notice his hair right now,” Osiecki chuckled. “I give him a hard time.”
However, while that may be what draws the observer to him first, it is his skill and abilities on the ice that keep the eye on him.
The Wingfield, Illinois native is in his second year at Miami University. The sophomore was drafted in the 2013 NHL Draft in the sixth round (181st overall) by the Chicago Blackhawks. During his freshman year with the Redhawks, Louis played in 36 of the season’s 38 games and finished fifth on the team with 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists). This included five multi-point games and two games in which he scored multiple goals. Louis speaks highly of both the school and the hockey program.
“I love the hockey there, but I love the school as well. There’s a lot of good guys there,” Louis told The Pink Puck. “They help in every aspect. They don’t just care about hockey; they care about you as a person as well.”
And Louis has been aware of some professional hockey players who call Miami their alma mater.
“Reilly Smith, obviously he’s a Boston Bruin; he’s an unbelievable player so I kind of looked up to him going into [Miami], he’s dynamic, all over the ice,” he said. “Andy Miele winning the Hobey Baker, unbelievable player, unbelievable skill, and strong. I kind of play like him I think.”
While there is not as much prejudice against the smaller players, Louis has still heard that he is too small to play hockey.
“Oh yah, it’s in one ear and out the other,” he grinned. “I just want to prove people wrong at that aspect.”
Proving them wrong appears to be working for him, harnessing that motivation to show that he is the only person who can limit his progression. His skills speak for themselves on the ice, and Louis knows what he does well.
“My speed, my quickness, play-making abilities, goal scoring. I’m obviously a smaller guy out there so I have to play to my strengths,” Louis said with conviction. “Show everyone in the stands what I can do with and without the puck. Back pressure. Stealing pucks, that’s one of my strong suits.”
While the men in the stands have not been available for comment, Head Coach Osiecki has noticed more than just Louis’ hair.
“He’s come in and I would say, using him and how he has showed up, he showed that he wants to make the team,” Osiecki said when asked specifically about Louis. “I think he’s had three very good days.”
Having played in USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program before going to college, he has had experience with USA Hockey and looks forward to proving he has earned a spot on the roster.
In his draft year, the 2013 NHL Draft Black Book called him brave and said that he possessed great tools. “His hands are lightning-quick, allowing him to navigate traffic with ease and make plays, and has a hard shot that he releases quickly. His skating is fluid and dynamic and he plays with a lot of jump.” They did mention that his size became a factor in board battles, but he has apparently worked on that, as he is harder to knock off the puck than perhaps his size would suggest.
“Try to keep the d-man [defenseman] honest or whoever is on me honest,” Louis said. “You use a low center of gravity. I don’t want to stay tall, because then it is easier to get me, and I wand to keep my feet moving and the puck away from them obviously, keep protecting it.”
All in all, Louis understands what he is good at and he works hard on the ice to ensure that he has those opportunities to use his skills and make the plays. What could come off as bravado from some is him speaking the truth from his years of honing those skills. Those skills make it possible for him to play in games with players who have quite a bit of height and weight on him. And he knows how to work that to his advantage.
“Bigger guys, you have to keep them moving.” he responded. “They get tired faster.”
Louis proves, to paraphrase Mark Twain, that it’s not the size of the player in the hockey game, but the size of the hockey game in the player.
Full interview from day 2 of camp: