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One Step Closer: Strong NHL Training Camp Boosts Rheault’s Confidence

Originally published in the 2nd 2010-11 edition of BLAZE.

The journey to professional hockey stardom can sometimes be a long grind. For Abbotsford Heat
winger Jon Rheault, that journey has seen him criss-cross the continent many times in just a couple of
years.

Drafted in 2006 by the Philadelphia Flyers, Rheault completed four years at Providence College –
earning a degree while playing for the Friars. He turned pro as a free agent. After spending the
2008-09 season on try-outs with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs and the ECHL’s Ontario Reign, he
had an even busier 2009-10 campaign.

“Last year I played for four different teams and was up and down and all around, living in hotels,”
shares Rheault. “Even though I was all over the place, I had a ton of fun and met a lot of cool people.
I’m further along now than I was then, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, with
the NHL being right around the corner.”

Rheault split time between Manchester, Ontario, and the Providence Bruins before landing a spot with
the injury-plagued Heat. He made the most of it, scoring five points in five regular season games and leading
the team in playoff goal-scoring. That was enough for the Heat to sign him to an AHL contract and
for the Calgary Flames to invite him to his first training camp. Previously unable to attend camp due
to NCAA regulations, Rheault believes development camps prepared him to hit the ground running at
main camp.

“I kind of knew what to expect. I just knew that if I obviously came in good shape, had been on the ice
a good amount before I got here that I’d be in a good position,” says Rheault. “Coming in, there’s not a
chance I should make the team or anything like that, but I came in with the mentality that I’m going to
do everything I can to put pressure on them to make the team.”

Now assured a roster spot in Abbotsford, Rheault isn’t resting on his laurels. He began this season with
three assists in three games and sees his AHL stint as an opportunity to prove to Flames brass that he’s
worth keeping in the organization long-term.

“I want to really force their hand, make them have to make a decision on me,” says Rheault. “The
situation I’m in, I am just on an American League contract. My goal is to have an NHL contract.”

Rheault’s tenacity earned him two full seasons of professional hockey as well as a long look at Flames
main camp. One of the last players cut by the club after appearing in several pre-season contests, he’s
not at all shy about his goal of playing in the big leagues.

“I know I can play in the NHL,” says Rheault. “Just playing in those exhibition games, I know I can.
I’m just waiting for that opportunity to come along… I’m going to do everything I can to work hard
down here and be ready for it when it comes.”

Posted in Hockey.

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