'If an opportunity presents itself, that'll make my year': Regina Pats' forward looking to extend career beyond the WHL
REGINA -- In just over a week, the Western Hockey League will conclude its 2021 season in Regina, and that has some players coming to terms with the fact that their junior career will soon be over.
On Monday, the WHL announced that no playoffs, including the WHL Championship Series, will be held. In a press release, the league said the move is “due to current public health conditions and the ongoing challenges with COVID-19, including restrictions on travel across both provincial and international borders.”
The Regina Pats have just five games left in their season, which is a brutal reality for some players.
“I made a joke to Kyle Walker in the dressing room last night that it’s the last time we’ll ever play the Prince Albert Raiders,” Carson Denomie said ahead of the Pats game on Sunday night.
Regina beat Prince Albert 4-3, snapping a three-game losing streak.
“Everybody was on their game last night. It took everybody and it took the whole 60, but that was definitely one of the best games we’ve had this year,” Denomie said.
There’s some irony in the timing of the victory for Denomie. The left-winger is 20 years old, meaning he’s playing his final season of junior hockey.
The Regina product says in the off-season, he was worried he’d be on the outside looking in. Four over-agers were vying to make the roster, but only three are allowed per team.
“You know there were four 20-year-olds still on the roster that just made me want to work that much harder so I could stay here,” Denomie said.
Now after 16 games in the hub, Denomie is averaging a point per game. He has 19 points, the third most on the Pats. His team-high 12 goals are also good for third in the WHL. He’s hoping it’s enough to extend his hockey career with either a U-Sports or even pro team.
“If an opportunity presents itself that’ll make my year,” Denomie said.
The left-shooter only has two points since his linemate, Connor Bedard, left to compete with the Under 18 Canadian National team in Texas.
“A guy like him, he’s head and shoulders better than everybody, so you got to keep up and work with him and kinda let him do this thing,” Denomie said.
The Pats are currently 7–9-2-1 with five contests left in the 2021 season. Denomie’s last game will be against Winnipeg on April 27.
“I’m sure when that last game comes it’ll hit a little harder,” Denomie said. “It’ll definitely be some weird feelings.”