The Pipeline: A conversation with Rieger Lorenz
Rieger Lorenz chose the Alberta Junior Hockey League route for his draft year.
Hard to argue the decision.
The 6-foot-2 forward is having himself a great start, putting up 70 points (30 goals, 40 assists) in 45 games this season playing for the Okotoks Oilers — pacing all members of the 2022 NHL Draft class in total points.
“I committed before the draft, so it kinda made the decision a little bit easier,” Lorenz told Guy Flaming during their interview on The Pipeline Show. “My family prioritizes education over everything, so I think that kinda made it a little easier. I think going into the bantam draft I was kinda not as well developed as some other guys. So I don’t think I would have had as much success in the WHL if I went that path.”
Lorenz, committed to the University of Denver for next season, is 38th in FCHockey’s Winter ranking for the 2022 draft, and is slotted 24th among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list.
The accolades haven’t affected Lorenz, though.
“My goal is to be the best player I can,” he said. “If an NHL team kinda sees that in me, then great, and if not then I’ll keep on my development path and see where I end up.”
Guy Flaming: Everything seems to be clicking for you right now. Did you expect to have this sort of a season at the start of the year?
Rieger Lorenz: Obviously it was a tough year last year to kind of measure myself. I didn’t play that many games. But I worked hard in the off season, so yeah it’s kinda nice to see my hard work pay off.
Guy Flaming: Have you always been a forward?
Rieger Lorenz: Yeah, always a forward. I never really liked goaltending or defense.
Guy Flaming: How do you get to Okotoks from Calgary? What’s the process like? I know there isn’t a draft in the AJHL, so is it all recruiting and what led you there?
Rieger Lorenz: So my dad played NCAA hockey for the University Notre Dame. So kinda always wanted to go the college route.
Guy Flaming: You mentioned that your dad played collegiate hockey. I imagine as a kid he got you playing and on the ice as a youngster.
Rieger Lorenz: Yeah, 100%. Backyard rinks and that kinda stuff.
Guy Flaming: In Canada, most guys will think of going the Canadian Hockey League route. You’re following in your father’s footsteps to go play college hockey. Was that an easy decision for you to make?
Rieger Lorenz: I committed before the draft, so it kinda made the decision a little bit easier. My family prioritizes education over everything, so I think that kinda made it a little easier. I think going into the bantam draft I was kinda not as well developed as some other guys. So I don’t think I would have had as much success in the WHL if I went that path.
Guy Flaming: Now, if you proceed with your college option that would lead you to Denver. Why was joining the Pioneers the right fit for you? Really highly respected program and have certainly pushed a lot of guys to the NHL. Why that option in particular, why that program being the right fit for you?
Rieger Lorenz: My dad ended up playing junior hockey with the assistant coach Dallas Ferguson, actually in the AJHL as well. That’s kinda my connection to Denver. My second year bantam they came and watched me a bit. Flew down there once and met the coaches, I think that’s when I kinda fell in love with the program.
Guy Flaming: Now when it comes to the draft Rieger, is it something you spend much time thinking about?
Rieger Lorenz: My goal is to be the best player I can. If an NHL team kinda sees that in me, then great, and if not then I’m keep on my development path and see where I end up.
Guy Flaming: For people who haven’t had a chance to watch you play., they’ll look up the stats and see 26 goals and 63 points and know that you’re an offensive guy. It might not tell the whole story though. So, how do you describe yourself as a player?
Rieger Lorenz: I think I’m a competitive two-way guy. Especially here in Okotoks, I think our coach trusts me on the power play and PK. And I think I’m proud of myself this year for developing that defensive part of the game. The area that I excel in would probably be creating passes for myself and finding those passing lanes.
Guy Flaming: I was going to ask, a lot of offensive guys take pride and maybe think their defensive game is maybe overlooked a little bit. Do you think you get overlooked for your strong defensive plays?
Rieger Lorenz: Yeah, I mean obviously if you just look at the stats, but I think if you come to watch, I think people will see that I’m pretty responsible defensively.
Guy Flaming: Rieger, before you get to the next level, what sort of things do you wanna shore up in your game so you’re ready to take on collegiate opponents?
Rieger Lorenz: I think little things in my skating I think need improvement. Especially when I get tired, I stand up a little bit in my stride. I think my shot is another area. I think straight on I have a good shot. Some areas I need to improve are changing the angle a little bit. I guess just kinda critiquing some things in my D-zone game.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.