The Regina Pats are getting ready for the puck to drop on their new season.
When the new Pats season begins on Thursday in Moose Jaw, it also marks the beginning of a very busy two years for Pats centre Sam Steel.
“Yeah, (it’s) a little (daunting),” said Steel.
“A lot of questions; (we’ll have to) see what’s going to happen. It’s exciting too.”
Steel’s second year in major junior officially begins his journey to a potential career in the NHL.
During his rookie season, expectations were relatively low as the 16-year-old adjusted to life at a much higher level of hockey. Now that the former number two overall draft pick has his feet wet in the league, the pressure and demands will start to mount.
Those demands on Steel already began in August when he was a part of Team Canada’s entry to the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Under-18 Memorial Cup tournament.
“It was a really unique experience getting to go over there and play against some of the best players in my age group in the world,” said Steel.
“We got the gold, that’s really the most important things. (I) can’t say anything negative about it.”
The tournament acted as a good warmup for Steel as he was able to play in some highly-competitive games before Pats’ training camp began. The games were also an important test for Steel who missed the end of last season with an ankle injury.
Outside of his day-to-day role with the Pats, Steel will also be followed and evaluated closely by scouts from across North America.
Steel will also be playing in a lot of games for a lot of different teams between now and June 2017. Steel already participated in Hockey Canada’s summer showcase for this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship team, and there’s a pretty good chance he’ll get an invite to selection camp later this year.
“I think you just try not to worry about that. You just play your game, try to contribute night in and night out. We’ll see what happens from there,” said Steel.
If that’s not enough, Steel will also be expected to take a bigger role with the Pats this season after being named the team’s rookie of the year last year.
That’s just fine by Steel.
“I think I just need to take charge. I’m becoming a little older in the league, it’s time for me to step up and take charge.”
The Pats home opener goes Saturday night at the Brandt Centre against the Moose Jaw Warriors.