By Whitneigh Kinne | AHL On The Beat Archive
For many people, July days are spent at the beach with thoughts of hockey far off in the distance. That wasn’t the case for Portland Pirates center Wade Megan, the first to sign with the team under its new affiliation agreement with the Florida Panthers in July.
A top-line scorer at Boston University, Megan bounced between the ECHL and American Hockey League during his first two professional seasons before earning a consistent spot in the Pirates line-up.
“I really had to change my game a lot,” said Megan. “Typically your top two lines are your most skilled players. Your top six (forwards) are expected to score goals. The third line is somewhere in between, I think, score goals here and there but also be very responsible defensively.” And the fourth line? “Finish checks, create energy, do all the little stuff,” Megan said. “If we can put the puck in the net, it’s a bonus.”
Competition may be tougher in the AHL, but Megan has found his niche as a grinder proving to be fatal on the penalty kill. The 25-year-old broke a 13-year-old record previously held by Trent Whitfield in March when he slipped a shot between the post and Springfield Falcons goalie Niklas Treutle’s pad. That was his sixth shorthanded goal of the season. He added one more in Springfield last weekend, finishing the season with seven short-handed tallies—three more than anyone else in the AHL this season.
The key to Megan’s success? “Consistency, plain and simple,” said Portland Pirates coach Scott Allen. “You know what you’re getting out of Wade Megan every single day.”
“I try to kill the penalty first and foremost” said Megan, whose seven other goals have come at even strength. “But if you play well positionally and play hard, the opportunities are there to get some breaks. Fortunately, on a majority of them, I’ve been able to finish.
“I believe that good habits are important, with such a long season I try to just let my habits take over,” the forward said. “ I find it makes certain things easier if they become automatic.”
“He’s very intelligent,” said Allen. “He understands our system. Guys like him and Brett Olson and Jonathan Racine … understand what we want and how we want to kill (penalties). They’re hard workers and they have tremendous courage.”
Off the ice, the Megan has been a leader in the community, making multiple visits to patients at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and participating as a coach at youth hockey clinics.
The 2009 fifth-round draft pick would have to sign a new deal with Florida should he get a chance to play in Sunrise, but don’t count him out.
“In my eyes, he could go play on the fourth line and kill penalties in the NHL. Can he do it long-term? That’s what I don’t know,” Allen said.
Megan plans to remain in Portland beyond the Pirates’ playoff run to attend to important summer plans.
“I’ll get my fly-fishing stuff together,” said Megan. “I’m going to get a mountain bike and enjoy the summer here in Maine. I think it’ll be fun.”
You can expect Megan to explore Maine’s rocky and seemingly-endless coastline looking for a new location to prepare for the upcoming season wherever it may begin.
“I trained in New York for awhile, then in Boston for a bit and Lake Placid, among other places,” said Megan. “I often need to change up my workouts and even locations just to break up the monotony of training.”
As an avid reader, Megan also expects to take advantage of the Portland library where there is no shortage of books. Megan is one guy who, from a literary standpoint, won’t be caught short-handed.