The often intimidating transition from midget AAA hockey to the major junior ranks has been reasonably flawless for Trey Patterson.
The secret to his success during his stint with the Red Deer Rebels
is the understanding that playing within himself is an absolute necessity.
“So far I think I’ve played well, held my own on the ice and made the most of the ice time I’ve got,” the 16-year-old defenceman said Tuesday. “I think I’ve done well.”
A smooth skater with puck moving abilities, Patterson has focused more on his own end since being recalled by the Rebels just over two weeks ago when Chase Leslie joined fellow rearguard Kyle Masters on the injury list.
“Here I’m more of a stay at home defenceman. I don’t try and jump up into the play unless the opportunity really presents itself,” he said.
Clearly, Patterson, who has picked up a single assist in six games with the Rebels, listened to the Red Deer coaches upon joining the club Jan. 18.
“They didn’t really tell me much. Just don’t be nervous out there and just do what I can do,” said the Calgary native, who — with Masters back from a long lay off this weekend — will return to his hometown AAA midget Buffaloes following Wednesday’s meeting with the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Rebels assistant coach Brad Flynn has admired Patterson’s poise and overall play.
“I’ve been really impressed with Trey. He’s come in and kept it simple,” said Flynn. “He’s a very good skater, he’s very coachable and he’s not scared to get dirty, which we like from our defencemen.
“I really like his angles, his gaps. He’s got good composure for the most part for a young player, considering the role he’s been put in.”
But like all players getting their feet wet in the Western Hockey League, Patterson, who stands a shade over six-foot-one and carries 174 pounds, is a work in progress.
“There are things in his game he has to work on, his strength, his shot . . . quicker decision making,” said Flynn. “But all in all he’s done what we’ve asked of him, which is keep it simple and move pucks quickly. He’s done a good job of that.”
Patterson, who this season has two goals and seven points in 23 games with the reigning AMHL champion Buffaloes, admitted the ascension to the WHL has been challenging.
“The speed, just the plays that are made. They’re more solid and crisp,” he said. “Everything is just that much faster, so it is quite a jump up (from midget AAA).”
Still, his time with the Rebels has been a valuable learning experience and should give him a jump start on the 2020-21 season when he’ll likely be a regular with the club.
“This really gets me looking forward towards next year and what it’s going to be like if I make the team. It gives me a little head start,” noted the Rebels second-round pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft.
Flynn agreed that Patterson, who will celebrate his 17th birthday on April 25, stands to benefit long term from what will be a seven-game audition with the Rebels.
“I think it great and it’s very helpful for the coaching staff as well in terms of being able to implement some things with him,” said Flynn.
“We can give him a better summer development plan on what we expect from him so he can go home and work on those things. He needs to work on things that we feel he needs to improve on so he can get more ice time and be a more impactful player, not only for our organization but also himself.
“By getting this taste . . . it’s been a good six games for him, a good sample size, not just a one and done.”
Rebels vs. Lethbridge Hurricanes
Wednesday, 7 p.m., Centrium
The Hurricanes breeze into the Centrium with a 30-12-2-5 record and are 7-2-1-0 in their last 10 games. Lethbridge occupies second place in each of the Central Division and Eastern Conference . . . Buffalo Sabres prize prospect C Dylan Cozens has amassed a team best 60 points, including 28 goals, in just 37 games. LW Oliver Okuliar is next with 54 points (28g,26a) in 41 games and Alex Cotton follows with 52 (15-37), a league high among defencemen. C Logan Barlage (18-28-46) and D Calen Addison (8-32-40 in 36 games) have each contributed 40 or more points. Cozens and Addison were members of the gold-medal winning Canadian team at this year’s world junior championship. Okuliar suited up with Team Slovakia . . . Cozens was selected seventh overall in last year’s NHL entry draft. Addison was a second-round selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2018 and C Brett Davis was taken by the Dallas Stars in 2017 but never signed with the NHL team. Davis, traded by Red Deer to Lethbridge in early January, has seven points (5-2) in six games with the ‘Canes . . . Guarding the Lethbridge net are Carl Tetachuk (2.49 goals-against average, .912 save percentage) and Bryan Thomson (2.69, 9.04). Tetachuk sports a win-loss record of 17-8-1 while Thomson is 13-4-1.
Injuries: Lethbridge — D Calen Addison (illness, day-to-day), D Joe Arnsten (upper body, week-to-week), RW Dino Kambeitz (lower body, week-to-week), C Noah Boyko (upper body, day-to-day). Red Deer — D Chase Leslie (upper body, week-to-week), D Kyle Masters (lower body, day-to-day).
Special teams: Lethbridge: Power play 23.1 per cent, seventh overall; penalty kill 78.1 per cent, 13th. Red Deer — Power play 15.9 per cent, 20th overall; penalty kill 76.2 per cent, 19th.