Shaunavon’s Dyson Stevenson has broken out offensively during his final year of junior hockey with the Regina Pats.
The gritty forward has never been shy to drop the gloves but this season he already has 35 goals and 69 points to go along with 121 penalty minutes.
The 6’0’’, 185-pound right wing broke in with the Pats in 2010-11 with 14 points and 72 penalty minutes in his rookie season.
“It was hard. It is hard for every young kid to come into the league. You have to find ways to stay in the line-up whether it is scoring or hitting or fighting. The way I stayed in the line-up was hitting every night and coming to play every night and fighting when I had to. The coaches saw that and as I got older they respected me a bit more. I just kept working hard and they are giving me chances, especially now I am getting the chance of a lifetime to play with Morgan Klimchuk and Chandler Stephenson to see where my career is going to go after this year.”
Stevenson now has 161 points and 420 penalty minutes over 248 regular season games.
“It has been a long journey. I can score and I can fight. I like fighting a lot, but I am not afraid to score a few goals too,” he said.
Stevenson had totaled only 37 goals in his first 186 games with the Pats before breaking out this season, including a four-goal game last Tuesday against Lethbridge.
“I was just working hard and playing with two really good players in Chandler Stephenson and Morgan Klimchuk until he got sick. It always helps to play with those guys that have the potential to be playing in the NHL next year. I have just being going to the net, the puck has been on my stick and I have been finding a way to tap it in. Not too many nice goals that I have scored this year but I am just finding a way.”
The Pats got out to a slow start but have since caught fire to take over the East Division lead from the Swift Current Broncos.
“We are just working hard,” explained Stevenson. “We are just finding ways to win games… We have a great goaltender in Daniel Wapple who has been key for us since the trade deadline. We were just finding ways to win, it didn’t matter if it was a shootout or an 8-0 win we just found ways and everyone was sticking together.”
The Pats were on the wrong end of a 6-2 loss to the Broncos last Wednesday with a line-up depleted by injuries and illness.
“Yeah we knew coming in that it was going to be tough test, obviously the biggest game of the year for both teams. We have a couple of sick guys right now and a couple of key guys that have concussions. But we still have to come out to play better than we did tonight. Obviously being short staffed was key but I felt like it should have been a way closer game. Our defense wasn’t good, we have had troubles taking penalties all year and that’s what cost us tonight.”
The Pats had lost their first five games against the rival Broncos before defeating them in overtime Friday to conclude the season series.
“I think when we are going their goalie is hot. He is a great goalie and he wins them a lot of games. When we are not going they seem to be going every night. They have good D with that [Dillon] Heatherington and [Julius] Honka pair that always shuts down the top line and we need some secondary scoring I think. Basically their goalie has been on when we are on and when we are not on they just overpower us and kill us on the scoreclock.”
Last week’s loss could have been his last game at the Credit Union iplex, where he played some of his minor hockey.
“Yeah is has always been fun coming back here to see the friends and family in the stands. Everyone on my team says they hate this rink but it is my favorite rink to come to, it is so small and I am just used to the ice, it is always good ice here. It is kind of sad that it might be my last game, but there is a good chance we might meet these guys in the playoffs so we will see what happens. I am not going to cry about it but it has always been good times coming here to Swift.”