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KENNEDY, MORRISON SHARED OHL RIVALRY

Friday, 05.19.2006 / 12:00 AM / Pittsburgh Penguins
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KENNEDY, MORRISON SHARED OHL RIVALRY

Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Morrison roomed together during their stay at Pittsburgh Penguins training camp in the fall.

If those same room assignments were given again in the future, they wouldn’t mind it because it’d most likely mean they were both in the NHL.

This season, Kennedy (Sault Ste. Marie) and Morrison (Peterborough) were opponents in the Ontario Hockey League.

“I always like playing against Jordan. It’s a good rivalry, but also fun,” Kennedy said. “I roomed with him during camp. It was good to know someone at camp from your own league, so that was nice.”

“He’s a nice guy. Just to have a guy my same age and in similar shoes at camp was nice,” Morrison said. “We play each other twice a year in the OHL. We’re both centermen, so we have the odd word on the ice. We say hi and chat a little bit on the ice between draws. It’s a game and you go out there and do what you have to do, but you’re still friends before and after.”

Kennedy, Pittsburgh’s 2004 fourth-round draft pick (99th overall), wrapped up a successful season with the Greyhounds. He led the team with 48 assists and 70 points and finished second with 22 goals in 64 games.

Sault Ste. Marie made the playoffs, but was swept in the first round. Kennedy, a 5-foot-10, 183-pound center, had a goal and two assists in four playoff games.

“I think I had a really good season,” he said. “We had a young team, but we’re still did pretty well.”

Kennedy has watched his point totals increase throughout all three years of his stay in Sault Ste. Marie. However, the 19-year-old wants to keep improving.

“For sure, I think I just keep getting better every year. I have been trying to improve every year,” he said. “I just want to keep getting better and play the best I can.”

Kennedy is looking forward to coming to Penguins camp in the fall.

“It was a great experience last time. I loved every minute of it. It was great meeting some of the guys and just playing with some of the best guys in the world. It was an overall great experience,” he said. “I think there are great guys in Pittsburgh right now. A lot of the younger guys are playing really well. So are the veterans.”

Morrison, the Penguins’ 2004 seventh-round draft pick (222nd overall), helped guide the Petes to the best record in the OHL’s Eastern Conference.

“The team is doing really well this year,” he said. “We have some high expectations.”

Peterborough is in the midst of a successful postseason run. The Petes captured the OHL championship and are vying for a Memorial Cup.

Morrison, a 5-foot-11, 167-pound center, finished third on the Petes with 67 points. The 19-year-old had 31 goals and 37 assists in 68 games. In 19 playoff games, Morrison was third on the team with 19 points (6+13) for Peterborough.

“Personal goals go hand in hand with team goals,” he said. “If the team does well and goes far, that will benefit me as well. It gives the scouts more opportunity to see me.”

Like Kennedy, Morrison’s point totals increased all three years at Peterborough.

“It’s something I wanted to do,” Morrison said. “I want to get better and work on certain things every year. I need to get stronger and work on my legs so I don’t get pushed off the puck and I will see where that takes me. So far, it’s been a good season and I am trying to end it in a good way.”

Morrison enjoyed his stint at Penguins training camp in the fall.

“It’s a real eye-opener because the guys are that much bigger and faster,” he said. “It was fun to go out there to see the caliber and see what you have to do to get to the next level.”

He’s determined to improve enough to make an impact at the next training camp.

“That’s definitely a goal,” he said. “I do really want to have a good end of the season and see what happens next year.”

The Penguins have a wealth of young talent. Morrison feels fortunate to be a part of that core, which should be successful for many years.

“That’s the thing I loved about the organization when first when I got drafted. There are a lot of young guys in the system and the Penguins are a fairly young team,” he said. “Hopefully, I can make the best of my opportunity there whenever I get it.”

 

 

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