It wasn’t hard to find Michael Rasmussen on the ice during the Tri-City Americans rookie camp Friday morning.
At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, he towers over a good percentage of the other players his age.
“I’m tall, but not wide,” Rasmussen said after Team Red’s morning skate. “I need to work on that.”
The Americans used their first pick — seventh overall — to take Rasmussen of Surrey, British Columbia, in May’s Western Hockey League bantam draft.
Rasmussen, 15, led the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s Bantam Prep team in scoring with 41 goals and 46 assists in 59 games. He also was named an all-star at the John Reid Memorial Tournament and the Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament.
Three months ago, Rasmussen was a little unsure about the Americans; he was more familiar with the Canadian WHL teams. But after a few days in the Mid-Columbia, the area has grown on him.
“I really like it here,” he said. “There are a lot of good people, they care about you. It’s a nice city and a nice facility. Everyone has been super welcoming, and the coaches are great. It’s been a good experience so far.”
Like most first-time players at the rookie camp, Rasmussen wasn’t sure what to expect, but so far nothing has surprised him.
“The overall pace of the game is faster and guys are more mature and stronger,” he said. “There are a lot of good guys to play with and against. I know a couple of guys I played spring hockey with (goalie Braedon Fleming and forward Brady Buckham).”
With two sessions and a scrimmage under his belt, Rasmussen hopes he has impressed the Americans scouts and management.
“I had a really good game last night,” said Rasmussen, who had four assists. “I’ve felt really good out there.”
Barclay Parneta, the Americans’ prospect development coach and head scout, said the team likes what it has seen from its top prospect.
“The expectations we had, he has lived up to what we thought and more,” Parneta said of Rasmussen. “He is in the top percentage of kids in his age group. We are really pleased with the group of kids we have. Their ‘compete’ level is high and they are showing us what we’d like to see.”
Rasmussen, who has yet to sign with the team, will be held over for main camp next week.
“He is a special player,” said Americans general manager Bob Tory. “We haven’t drafted that high in a long time. He is one of those players who don’t come around very often. We are excited about him possibly joining our team and playing for us for years to come.”
The rookie camp concludes at 10 a.m. today with the annual Blue-White game. Admission is free.
Alumni update: Defenseman Logan Stephenson (2001-06) signed a one-year contract with Tohoku Free Blades Hachinohe (Japan, Asia Hockey League). Last season, he had seven goals and 16 assists in 44 games with Sparta Sarpsborg (Norway, GET-Ligaen).
w Annie Fowler: 582-1574; email@example.com; Twitter: tchicequeen