Down on the farm’ is a feature series on Oil Caps prospects. Next up in this series: Jackson Orr. Enjoy.
By Lanny Stewart
Hard work, perseverance and dedication. It’s those kinds of intangibles that have helped shape Jackson Orr, the hockey player.
Just ask his head coach.
“Jackson’s strength is his competitive nature,” said Ken Schneider, bench boss of Orr’s current club, the Brandon AAA Wheat Kings. “He gives it 110 per cent every night.”
Now in his third season with the AAA Wheat Kings, Orr’s progression may not necessarily show up on the stat sheet every night – but it’s evident the 6-foot, 190-pound blueliner is developing into a ‘player to watch’ in the Oil Caps system (listed by Virden back in 2016).
“He’s a physical player that we often match up against opponents’ top lines,” Schneider added. “He’s really done a good job in making a good first pass and playing a simple game that’s really effective.”
That “effectiveness” in Orr’s game really showed up during Oil Caps training camp last fall as the 17-year-old left a lasting impression on team management.
“He came into camp and he let it be known he wanted to make this hockey team,” said Jamie Hodson, director of business and hockey operations for the Oil Caps. “He was terrific and was one of our better D-men in camp. He had an extended stay and although he ran into a couple injury issues, we were really impressed with his conditioning and the way he carried himself.”
Hodson believes Orr has the makings of a leader; one that could wear a letter on his sweater at some point down the road with the Oil Caps – and that comes as no surprise considering Orr currently is part of the leadership group with his current club in Brandon.
“He’s a tremendous kid,” Hodson added. “I don’t think I can say that enough. He’s extremely well-liked and I think that’s a credit to his upbringing. He comes from a terrific family. They have a lot of roots in Elkhorn and McAuley, those areas, so that’s exciting from our side of things too. He’s somewhat of a hometown kid.”
Troy Leslie, Oil Caps head coach and GM, says it’s clear Orr has shown steady progression throughout his midget career and he’s looking forward to coaching him in the future.
“I thought we was really solid in the exhibition games he played with us and he’s demonstrated good poise with the puck.”
Orr finished the regular season in Brandon with four goals and 14 points in 41 games. The AAA Wheat Kings will take on the Eastman Selects in the first round of the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs.
Orr says he knows quite a few players on the current Oil Caps roster, including Brett Paddock and Keagan Morrison, whom he played with during his first two years of midget.
“I also played with Dylan Halliday and have played hockey against pretty much the whole team at one point or another.”
How he got started
“I got put into Timbits (hockey) and I loved it,” recalled Orr on when he first started playing the game. “I always wanted to play mini-sticks and road hockey.”
Watching his cousin Brett Orr, who spent time with the Portage Terriers a few years ago, also was a driving force in him wanting to play the game at a high level.
“I really looked up to him and wanted to play hockey like he did. I also had a lot of family play hockey and it was something that we would do at family events, so it was just kind of something I always did growing up.”
A scout’s take
“Jackson has good size and mobility,” said Marc Berry, Oil Caps scout and team consultant. “He defends well against the rush and competes hard in the zone. He has good habits and is a guy that takes care of the house first. He’s a hard guy to play against and a good teammate.”
‘Plays a gritty game’
Tyson Ramsey, Oil Caps assistant coach, has had a lot of experience first-hand in watching Orr grow up as a hockey player over the past few years. Ramsey was the AAA Wheat Kings head coach during Orr’s first two seasons before joining Virden’s coaching staff last July.
“Jackson is definitely someone who can make the transition to junior A hockey. His dedication and commitment will help him to continue to grow as a player. He plays a gritty game and is an excellent team guy. We’re looking forward to watching him in the AAA playoffs and seeing him back in Virden in the spring and fall.”
Extra tidbits . . .
-Orr likes to fish during his downtime. “I try to get out to do that as much as possible and I like to surf too in the summer.”
-Asked what his plan is career-wise, Orr says he’s not exactly sure. “I don’t want to jump into anything too quickly and regret it in the long run, so I’m undecided as of right now.”
-His main focus for next year is to make the Oil Caps roster and hopes to eventually continue his hockey career via the collegiate route in the future.