Returning to the Smithers Civic Centre for the Steelheads’ home opener a few weeks ago gave Brendan deVries a chance to skate on familiar ice.
And the rookie centreman didn’t disappoint fans, scoring his second hat trick in as many games to help lead the team to a 5-3 victory over the Terrace River Kings.
The 21-year-old, who recently returned to his hometown, has become a strong offensive force for the team early in the season.
He is currently fourth in scoring in the CIHL with seven goals and two assists in four games.
While he is lighting it up on the ice, deVries is just happy to be playing for a team that he grew up watching as a kid.
“My brother and cousins played [with the Steelheads]. When growing up, we would always go to the rink to watch the Steelheads,” he said.
Hockey has been a huge part of deVries’ family since he was young.
“Our whole family is in to hockey, my brother [Adam] plays and I’ve played hockey my whole life,” he said.
“We always played in the back door rink. Everything has revolved around hockey my whole life.”
He began his hockey career in Smithers and went on to play for the Sicamous Eagles from 2011-13 before being traded to the Campbell River Storm last year.
With the Storm, he posted 32 goals and 56 assists in 44 games last season.
“Junior hockey is a totally different lifestyle. You play 50 games, playing three or four games a week and practicing every single day,” he said. “Then I went to playing 16 games. I guess when you play a 16-game season every game means a lot more.”
Coaches haven’t been able to nail down a consistent roster yet so deVries has been shuffled along, playing with variety of linemates.
But head coach Tom DeVries said the forward plays well with many players.
“He has a lot of individual skill, he’s fast, quick. He’s pretty smart,” he said. “He sure helps us a lot.”
Recently, other teams have taken notice of the forward, but general manager Kelly Zacharias said deVries performs well even when other teams target him.
“He still manages to get to the open ice and make plays and score goals,” said Zacharias.
Linemate Ryan Green said deVries is the same on the ice as he is off it.
“He’s cool, calm and collected and doesn’t really get riled up too much. It’s nice to have him. He’s made a big impact right away,” said Green.
But deVries said the key to his success is simple.
“I try and shoot the puck as much as I can. I don’t do any fancy moves, I just try and get it on net,” he said.
“We got a good group of guys and it’s a lot of fun. Everyone in town likes our team and it’s nice to play for them,” said deVries, adding that he plans to continue working in town and playing for the club.