Hard Work Guiding Eansor To Strong Start
Scott Eansor sort of snuck up on the AHL.
He was undrafted, a 21-year-old who didn't have a pro contract until July, when he signed with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Whatever the expectations were for Eansor, he blew them away with seven goals in his first six games, shooting to the top of the AHL goals leaderboard.
As of Thursday, Eansor (seven goals) is tied for first among AHL rookie goal leaders and is tied for second in AHL goals. No one is sleeping on Eansor anymore.
“I've just felt really comfortable (in Bridgeport) ever since the first day I joined this team,” Eansor said. “Don't get me wrong, the pro game is tough, but these guys push me in practice and we've developed good chemistry early on. Scoring comes in numbers and it's a long season so I'm just going to keep my head down, work hard, and we'll see what happens.”
Hard work is Eansor's calling card and it's what has moved him up the hockey ranks. His heart outsizes his 5'9, 174 lbs. frame and he's labeled with one of the best compliments a hockey player can get – a “gamer.”
“I think I was just born with an edge and a work ethic. I get out there and go until there's nothing in the tank, and then I recharge and go out again,” Eansor said. “Ever since I was a kid, they had to lay me down on the bench after each shift because I would come off the ice so tired. It's how I play, I can't help it.”
For Eansor, the relentless hustle adds a dimension to his game that doesn't always show on the stats sheet, but earned him a co-captaincy with Mathew Barzal on the WHL Champion Seattle Thunderbirds.
And to really get an insight into his game, consider his favorite players growing up were: Martin St. Louis, Scott Gomez, Brad Marchand and more recently, Brendan Gallagher. They're all skilled guys under 5'11 who played feisty games.
“I'll never forget I watched Martin St. Louis in the playoffs one year, playing back then it was a lot harder for small guys to play. They could hook and grab and he never gave up, he was a gamer,” Eansor said. “He was really big idol for me, knowing that if you worked hard enough you could play. He's smaller than me, a lot smaller. That was really eye opening and I took that.”
So how did Eansor wind up on the Sound Tigers? A majority of that is owed to his unrelenting play. Part of it is also owed to Islanders Head Coach Doug Weight.
Eansor and Weight first crossed paths at the 2015 World Junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, NY. Eansor had played two years in the WHL, but was considered a dark horse candidate for the team. Slowly, but surely, he worked his way onto the team - eventually winning a Bronze medal with Team USA - and caught the eye of the Isles coach.
“He was a guy that was under the radar as far as to make the team. We practiced and I actually coached him and I loved him,” Weight said. “I loved his work ethic and the way he played. He had some talent as far as creating things and had a great shot, but he has that pit-bull type attitude and he won't be stopped. He's slowly earned his way up the roster and by the end of camp he was in the fight to make this team.”
Evaluation camp was an eyebrow-raising moment for Weight who knew to look out for Eansor when he went to Seattle to watch Barzal last spring. Together, Barzal and Eansor led the Thunderbirds to their first-ever WHL Championship.
“He always catches my eye,” Weight said. “He's a good kid and has a great work ethic and has more tools than people know, so he's starting to prove it.”
Eansor earned an invite to Islanders Mini Camp after capturing the WHL title last spring. The Englewood, CO native made the most of his opportunity in front of the Islanders and Sound Tigers management and capped off a successful camp with a pair of goals, including a crafty spin-o-rama, in the Blue and White Scrimmage.
The prospect scrimmage was held on June 29. On July 1, he signed an AHL deal to join the Sound Tigers - his first pro contract. He hasn't looked back or got caught up too much in his hot start, but instead has just continued to put his head down and work.
“It's all about long-term goals,” Eansor said during Islanders Training Camp in September. “You see where you have to be if you want to be playing in the NHL and I'm going to take all the advice from the coaches and scouts and work on those things.”
By Cory Wright (New York Islanders) / Alan Fuehring (Bridgeport Sound Tigers)