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Tall defenseman with offensive talent from Windsor suburb commits to SCSU

Warren Clark, an 18-year-old defenseman from Riverside, Ontario, has 17 points in 16 games for the Steinbach Pistons of the MJHL.

Warren Clark mug.jpg
Warren Clark
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

One of the things that hockey teams at higher levels always seem to be in search of is talented right-handed shooting defensemen.

In the case of Warren Clark, throw in that he is 6-foot-5, 185 pounds and has moved onto a power-play unit as a rookie in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and college recruiters are going to start showing some interest.

"You don't see many players at his age with that type of puck poise," said Paul Dyck, who is in his 11th season as the head coach and general manager of the Steinbach Pistons. "With the size that he has, he has great feet for a right shot 'D' who can play on the power play.

"He's come in and adjusted quickly to Junior 'A.' Sometimes, it's a bit of an adjustment for an offensive defenseman. Probably the biggest, most pleasant surprise is his play away from the puck. He's a player who has the desire to play at the highest level possible. With that, he understands that there's some areas of his game he needs to develop. I really like the progress that he's made in the defensive zone."

After a strong start, Clark started receiving recruiting interest from NCAA Division I college teams. On Nov. 4, Clark committed to play for St. Cloud State.

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"The first thing that I really liked was how welcoming and how they actually cared about the relationship they were starting before I made my decision," Clark said of the Huskies coaching staff. "Their track record — they develop players to move on to the highest level. Coach (Brett) Larson spoke to me about how he understands the position really well and can develop defensemen.

"They're great people and great coaches," Clark said. "It's a good decision to work with them. I had a few schools reaching out and a few relationships building. I did have another offer from another school, but St. Cloud was definitely the way better option. The coaches made me feel really comfortable and set up that relationship early on."

Warren Clark.jpg
Warren Clark has three goals and 17 points in 16 games this season for the Steinbach Pistons of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League as a rookie. Clark, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds, is an 18-year-old defenseman.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Knows a future teammate

Another thing that helps Clark a bit with his comfort level is that he knows a future St. Cloud State player.

Clark is from Riverside, Ontario, which is a suburb of Windsor. Defenseman Kaleb Tiessen, who committed to the Huskies in April , has worked out with Clark. Tiessen, who is listed at 6-5 and 205 pounds, is playing for the Maryland Black Bears in the North American Hockey League and will join the Huskies in the fall of 2023.

"He lives about 45 minutes from my hometown and we train (together) in the summer quite a bit," Clark said of Tiessen. "(SCSU) isn't too close to home, but it's nice to have some familiarity.

"I have heard a lot about the culture the team has and it should be pretty easy for me to step in and be comfortable."

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Clark played last season for the Chatham Maroons in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, which is a Junior 'B' league. Between the regular season and playoffs, he had 30 points in 69 games and caught the eye of the Steinbach scouts.

"I think the first thing that jumped out at us was he has very good offensive instincts," said Dyck, whose team plays at the Junior 'A' level. "He's a player that wants the puck on his tape. As a defenseman who was 6-3, right shot and can play the power play — those (characterstics) were appealing to us when we first started recruiting him. The way he works the offensive line ... you don't see that many players with that type of puck poise.

"Sometimes for younger players who have been productive offensively, there hasn't been much of an ask of them in terms of their play away from the puck. Sometimes the first time that they're really introduced to that is where the expectations are higher. I think Clarky is going through a little bit of that. But he's a very intelligent player, great hockey sense and he wants to be a guy who takes pride in all three zones. We've started to integrate him on the penalty kill and he's doing a good job there. He's got a great defensive stick."

Watch some video clips and one of the first things that you notice is his skating ability.

"I definitely would say that skating is arguably my best point, but also my smarts and my skill and it all ties in pretty well," Clark said. "I would say that I'm a two-way, offensive defenseman. I definitely like to play the offensive game and I'd say that's where my strong point is. But I'm definitely in tune with the defensive side and can play that effectively, too. I play a fun style, a unique style and I think that's attractive to the next levels."

Clark, who turned 18 in August, said that the SCSU coaching staff has left open when he will join the Huskies. But he is excited to have his college decision made.

"You're not really going to get any better than St. Cloud and it's definitely nice to commit to a high-end program like that," said Clark, who plans to major in business. "Now I get to focus on what we're trying to accomplish here, which is to win the MJ and then the (Centennial Cup)."

Dyck said that Clark fit into the locker room quickly and he sees his potential as a player.

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"There's just so much upside to Clarky with the frame that he has, long limbs and as he gets stronger, he's only going to improve," Dyck said. "He'll just grow in confidence as he gets stronger.

"He's one of those kids who comes in and just fits in. He's never really met a stranger and he's got a lot of charisma and a good personality. He's a confident kid, who communicates well ... St. Cloud getting on him early and identifying him early — I think they got a real good player and got ahead of it."

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Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com
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