A former hockey player with Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey, Tyler Steenbergen, is well on his way to an NHL career after having a breakout 51-goal sophomore season with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos.
Steenbergen also surmised 90 points, which was just short of doubling his 46 point rookie season. The scoring outbreak moved the former Red Deer AAA Midget Chief to 70th overall on the pre-draft rankings according to Central Scouting.
“It went really well and I couldn’t ask for anything else throughout the whole year,” Steenbergen said about his season, adding that he expects that he will continue to improve after another season with the Broncos, next season.
“It is my second year of eligibility and that is what happens in your second year,” he said. “My goal this year was to turn some heads and I feel I did. I am hoping for the best, come June 10[NHL draft day].”
Even with the draft looming, Steenbergen is focusing on improving in hopes that the Broncos can improve on their second-round loss to the Regina Pats.
“I’ll be back there for sure [in Swift Current], and I want to build off this season,” he said. “It will be hard to match what I did this season, but I will be working all summer long; working out; getting on the ice; and getting stronger, bigger and faster. We are going to have a good team next year and we are wanting to build off our second-round loss this year, and hopefully make it further into the playoffs.”
Steenbergen’s efforts in 2016-17 also earned him some WHL hardware – he took home the league’s Most Sportsmanlike Award.
“It is a great honour to receive that award,” he said. “Being the most sportsmanlike can be seen as a little bit of joke, but I take great pride in it. I want to stay out of the box so I can be out on the ice as much as I can. I feel like I did a good job of that this year. I am humbly proud to receive the award.”
Since returning to Sylvan Lake, Steenbergen hasn’t noticed too much change in the way he is treated since his success. However, being able to represent the community is something he takes very seriously.
“Obviously it is amazing,” he said. “I have lived here all of my life and I want nothing more than to put Sylvan Lake on the map. Being here and having kids look up to me is a huge factor too. I played my minor hockey here too, and I know what the kids are going through in Sylvan Lake. Hopefully they look up to me and down the road, if anyone has any questions they want to ask – I want to be a great support to the community.”
Going forward, the consensus from draft pundits is that Steenbergen needs to add size to his 5’10”, 188 lbs frame and that he needs to work on capitalizing on 5-0n-5 chances, with many of his goals last season coming with a man advantage. Steenbergen recognizes these suggestions and is planning to work hard over the course of his WHL career.
“I know I need to get bigger, because I know I am not the tallest guy on the ice,” he said. “I want to add a lot of muscle and I know, going forward, that it is something I need to work on. With the power-play thing; as long as you are getting chances throughout the game that’s all you care about. If they aren’t going in, that happens. If you stick with it, it will pay off in the end.”
Steenbergen will be training locally in order to build his frame and tune his skills.
“I will be working out in Red Deer this year with Al Parada. I will be going to his gym and getting stronger. Doing those things helps out a lot,” he said, adding that his local support system has helped him all along the way.
“My brother and dad have been a huge support system,” he said. “They always want me to do the best I can. They are always pushing me when I am on the ice. They want the best out of me and I want to do the best I can.”
With the added responsibility which comes with a break-out year, Steenbergen intends to capitalize on his chance.
“We are going to want to make the playoffs, first and foremost,” he said. “We made it to the second round this year. We will have a pretty good squad next year that will hopefully make it to the second and push into the third. You never know what happens after that.”
Steenbergen is hoping that his expanded role can help push next year’s Broncos towards a Memorial Cup.
“This year I started to have a bigger leadership role on the team, and it was a huge honour to wear an ‘A’ on my jersey this year,” he said. “Moving into next year, I want to be a good leader in the room and lead not only on the ice, but off the ice. I want to be vocal and show the young guys how to do everything.”
Steenbergen added that he is very pleased to see that Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey has a new home at the NexSource Centre.
“It is unbelievable. I was in Sylvan when the arena collapsed – I have a lot of good memories from that building, but they did a fantastic job with the NexSource Centre. I walked through it once and it looks amazing. Sylvan Lake definitely deserves that very nice facility,” he said.