(Guelph, ON) — The coaches around the Ontario Hockey League apparently love Guelph Storm forward Pius Suter. On Wednesday the Guelph Storm winger was chosen as the Western Conference’s most underrated player and most improved player in the annual OHL Coaches’ Poll.
Suter beat out Damir Sharipzyanov of Owen Sound and Kyle Pettit of the Erie Otters in hardest working player category and Erie’s Nick Betz and London’s Christian Dvorak in most improved.
“You just try and work hard and if you get recognized, then even better,” Suter said Thursday as the Storm finished practice.
“Coaches see your whole game a bit more and bit better than some other people, so it’s really nice to get recognized by them,” the 18-year-old said.
He has 40 goals and 28 assists this season and would likely be a candidate for the Storm’s MVP if not for the outstanding season Tyler Bertuzzi is having. Last season Suter scored nine goals.
“I can’t really explain it,” he said of the drastic improvement. “I just worked hard, got more ice time, played on the top line with great players like Bert, Fabs and Dickie.”
He said even he never envisioned a 40-goal season.
“My goal was to get a point a game,” he said. “I got off to a great start and then got into a bit of a hole. In the end you just try and help the team the best you can.”
Storm coach Bill Stewart said Suter started coming around late last season and has just kept getting better.
“Real intelligent away from the puck, really responsible, coachable and a great guy,” he said of Suter. “Not just low maintenance, he’s no maintenance.”
As for what the future holds, Suter has a contract offer on the table from a club team in Switzerland but will wait to see if and where he is drafted in the upcoming National Hockey League draft.
“I’ll wait until the draft to decide what I’m going to do next year.”
It would likely take a decent draft position and contract offer for him to turn down the contract waiting for him in Switzerland. If he does sign with an NHL team he would likely return to Guelph for another season.
“I hope he gets drafted and gets a chance to go to the next level at some point in time and see what happens,” Stewart said. “It will be his decision as to whether or not he comes back here, but guys like that you only wish the best for.”
The Storm hosts the Owen Sound Attack Friday then wraps up the regular season against the Sarnia Sting at the Sleeman Centre on Sunday.
Guelph needs to record one more point, or have Owen Sound drop a point, to clinch fourth place in the conference. The Storm holds the advantage in any tiebreaking scenario with the Attack.
(Excerpted from Tony Saxon of the Guelph Mercury)