Andrew Barbeau really wants to play for the Michigan Warriors in 2014-2015.
And the Warriors in turn are impressed with what the 1997 birth-year defenceman from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. has to offer.
Barbeau, who captained the Soo Indians to the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association’s major midget state championships in 2013-2014, was selected by the Warriors in the second round at the recent North American Hockey League draft.
The 5-foot-11, 180 pound defender — who played with the Soo Thunder minor midgets in 2012-2013 before moving up to major midget with the Indians in 2013-2014 — has his sights set on advancing to the NAHL as a member of the Flint-based Warriors in 2014-2015.
“I am really excited for this opportunity,” Barbeau told HockeyNewsNorth.com. “I had heard that the Warriors were interested in me and to be drafted by them and have the opportunity to play for a respected coach like Moe Mantha is a great feeling.”
The fact that Barbeau is a defenceman and that the grizzled Mantha played in close to 700 games as a National Hockey League blueliner has the youngster even more excited.
“Not only did he play all those games in the NHL but he has coached (at the pro level) in the American League and in juniors for 20 years. Everyone who I talk to tells me that Mr. Mantha is a great development coach,” said Barbeau.
The Warriors, to be sure, did their homework on Barbeau.
Besides Mantha, Warriors head scout Tom Boileau and assistant coach Jon Jepson got a first-hand look at Barbeau at the MAHA state championships.
The 53-year old Mantha, who has spent a lifetime in the game, has a reputation as a no-nonsense headmaster who teaches players how to play the game the right way.
Mantha, who grew up in the North Bay area and who maintains an off-season home in nearby Sturgeon Falls, Ont., had a lot of good things to say about Barbeau when asked by HockeyNewsNorth.com.
“By drafting Andrew it adds another mobile defenceman to our corps,” said Mantha. “He has great puck skills and sees the ice very well.”
Mantha said he talked with Barbeau before and after the NAHL draft.
“I am very impressed with his attitude, maturity and work ethic,” relayed Mantha. “He wants to be a hockey player, there is no doubt about that.”
The Warriors are coming off a second-place finish and subsequent NAHL North Division playoff championship in 2013-2014 and have since graduated 1993 birth-year defencemen Sean Campbell, Jake Faiella and Jake Fairchild.
Mantha said that Barbeau will get “every opportunity” to make the Warriors as a 17-year old rookie, adding that “he’ll have to come in to our training camp and make the team. We don’t just hand out roster spots. But I like what I have seen of Andrew and what I have heard about him.”
Barbeau, who had 7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points in 51 games with the Indians in 2013-2014, has twice been drafted this summer.
Earlier, he was a 26th-round pick of the Muskegon Lumberjacks at the 2014 United States Hockey League draft.
PHOTO: Andrew Barbeau dons a Michigan Warriors jersey. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)