Quinn Schmiemann was on stage at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame on Saturday in Wilcox, Sask., a few minutes away from accepting his high school diploma.
The momentous day took an unforgettable turn with a thumbs-up motion that rivals anything Don Cherry and Phil Mickelson have produced.
“I was graduating and I was up on stage while people were doing their speeches,” said Quinn, a 17-year-old Kamloops Blazers’ defenceman. “I didn’t have my phone on me. You’re not supposed to have your phone.
“I looked at my mom and she gave me a thumbs up from where she was sitting. I knew I was drafted.”
Angela Schmiemann was itching to get more information to her son, who was picked by the Tampa Bay Lighting 182nd overall in Round 6 of the NHL Draft.
“I thought, I see a mom I know up in the front row,” said Angela, a teachers’ assistant who lives in Wilcox. “I’m going to text her and she can whisper to the kid in the front row. That’s what she did. They whispered until it finally got to Quinn.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘Oh, this is going to be like the bad game of telephone you play as a kid, where the message comes out really wrong.”
Any confusion was stamped out when Quinn reached his phone, which was working overtime to record voice mails and text messages.
“I had like 20 phone calls and like 40 texts,” Quinn said. “It was just crazy. There were so many things going on. It was definitely a thing I won’t forget.”
Oma and Opa were there to bask in the moment.
“It was pretty dang cool,” Angela said.
Schmiemann, who turns 18 on July 27, shared with Josh Pillar the Blazers’ Rookie of the Year Award for 2018-2019 after racking up five goals and 28 points in 58 games.
He was 94th among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, released in April.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound blue liner has processed news of the Blazers’ coaching shuffle — Serge Lajoie has been replaced by head coach Shaun Clouston, with Darryl Sydor sliding into the associate coach position — and is expecting big things in 2019-2020.
“I’m excited to work with Shaun,” Quinn said. “He seems like a personable guy. He sent me a text as soon as he got hired, which I really appreciated. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him.
“Syd knows a lot. We kind of built a relationship last year and I think all the guys love him in the room.”
The whirlwind weekend finished with a trip to Florida for the Lightning’s development camp, which is underway in Tampa Bay.
“I just want to make the most of it, get some experience and take it into the summer and make a good first impression,” Quinn told KTW from his hotel room in Tampa.
Angela has another son who plays in the WHL, 20-year-old Tri-City Americans’ defenceman Dom Schmiemann.
Flipping between WHL Live broadcasts has not proven to be her strong suit.
“Without fail, I always miss the big play because I watch the other kid or I go back and I go, ‘Where’s my kid?’ and he’s in the penalty box.”
She didn’t miss a thing on Saturday.
The stage belonged to Quinn.
“He’s had this goal in mind and he’s willing to work for it,” Angela said. “It’s been a long road and it’s a long road yet to come.”
Panthers snare Ludvig
The Florida Panthers selected Kamloops product John Ludvig 63rd overall in Round 3 of the NHL Draft on Saturday.
Ludvig, a 6-foot-1, 196-pound defenceman for the Portland Winterhawks, will turn 19 on Aug. 2 and was passed over in last year’s draft.
He racked up five goals and 18 points, along with 77 penalty minutes, in 58 games with Portland last season.
Ludvig is the son of former NHLer Jan Ludvig. His sister, Katie Ludvig, plays volleyball for the TRU WolfPack.
In 2015-2016, Ludvig played for the major midget Thompson Blazers. He joined the junior B Kamloops Storm for the 2016-2017 campaign.
Ludvig, who could not be reached for comment before KTW’s press deadline on Tuesday, caught on with Portland in 2017-2018.