A current defenseman for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons is getting one step closer to playing in the NHL.
Taige Harding was drafted on Saturday in the third round, 91st overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.
He tells Mix News the moment his name was called was surreal.
“I had my family over, my grandparents, and they were all kind of in shock and super happy, so to share it with them was just awesome.”
.@KendallCoyne Schofield, Player Development Coach & Youth Hockey Growth Specialist makes our next selection:
Taige Harding pic.twitter.com/IiYtNJW8ma
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) July 24, 2021
The 6’7″ defender has spent the last two seasons with the MOB, scoring six goals and adding 13 assists in 62 games.
Harding sees himself as more of a defensive minded player, modeling his game after Seattle Kraken d-man Jamie Oleksiak.
He’s the first Oil Baron to be drafted since Colton Parayko was selected in the third round of the 2012 draft by the St. Louis Blues.
“Amazing guy and also a great player, he’s definitely a guy to, even slightly, follow in his footsteps… I have something to be proud of,” added Harding.
He plans on returning to the MOB for a third season.
The St. Albert native adds he’s excited to come back to the community, a place he says has really grown on him.
“To have like younger guys look up to you and I’ve heard some stories of playoff runs where fans are just crazy, kind of like a sixth player. So definitely a unique experience.”
The MOB are slated to return to the ice by late-August.
The MOB haven’t played since the end of April after they decided to cancel the season due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the region at the time.