Let Me Ride…

Check the box score from the Force’s November game with Waterloo and the most noticeable stat has to be the the 200-plus penalty minutes amassed by both teams.

Take another look at that box score and you’ll find that Garrett Haar had a pretty big night. The box score says he scored three assists. Haar says he actually had a hat trick that game along with an assist. With league stats not always being the most accurate, it’s possible that both outcomes could have occured.

What isn’t in doubt, however, is the fact that it was that game where Haar could start to feel like he was taking off.

“I felt like that game we came together and my teammates said it was the best game they’ve seen me play,” Haar said. “That really helped me gain confidence and turn around my season.”

It was from that point where Haar started playing the confidence and ability that made Northeastern make a real effort at recruiting him. Now, it turns out that it is also what helped Haar become a draft pick on Saturday of the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals selected Haar with their last selection, the 207th overall pick, in the seventh round of the NHL Entry Draft.

Starting the season, Haar, to a degree, was a bit of a relative unknown. He was a Northeastern commit from California that was largely unproven and being on a team with quite a few first-year USHL players, it remained to be see how he would perform.

Haar went on to score eight points in his next 11 games following the Waterloo game and it was from that point on where NHL scouts started taking notice with Haar and what he could do.

He also went on to play with a variety of defensive partners, something he said that only made him better.

“That prepared me for when we got into the playoffs,” he said. “It didn’t matter who I played with in the playoffs. Playing with Ian (Young) or Brian (Cooper) allowed me to stay back a little more and pick and choose my spots to jump into the offense. With Dan (Weissenhofer) or Oleg (Yevenko) maybe I had to jump into the play more since they were going to be back there playing that defensive d-man game.”

Now that he has a year of USHL experience, he’s seen the animal that is the USHL playoffs, Haar will be expected to be one of the key contributors on a team that could be an early favorite to win the Clark Cup.

The Force are projected to have at least 11 players for next year with USHL experience including Haar who will be one of three players on the team that have been drafted by an NHL franchise. Tanner Lane (Winnipeg) and Zane Gothberg (Boston) are the others.

But two questions remain: With experience and now that he’s a Capitals prospect, how much attention will Haar get this season? And if he plays with Cooper, a potential first-or-second rounder for next year’s draft, what would that mean for the both of them?

“I think it might put a target on my back and I am not going to back down from that,” Haar said. “Playing with Brian is going to be great and as of right now, he is better than me and I respect that and I agree with that. Not taking anything from him but next year there will be a target on my back too and I like that.”