Last year, Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Ryan Vandervlis followed the Memorial Cup in his hometown closely, hoping down the road he’d get his shot.
The Red Deer product who watched the major Junior hockey trophy get handed out at the Centrium last season, might get his shot if the cards fall in the right place this spring.
His Hurricanes team is one of the hottest in the WHL this year, showing a small taste of that with a 3-2 overtime win in Red Deer on Wednesday night. In their last 31 games, Lethbridge is 23-4-3-1.
In his third season with the Hurricanes, the bulky six-foot-three, 212-pound power forward said anytime he gets to play at home is fun.
“It’s always exciting, lots of friends and family in the building tonight watching me play. Gotta be on your toes. Get on the forecheck and make something happen,” he said.
Vandervlis didn’t manage to find the scoresheet Wednesday and with only four goals and 16 points on a stacked Lethbridge team, he knows his role is more about creating space for his teammates.
“We have a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net, so that’s not my role,” he said. “I was hurt earlier on in the season so I was just trying to come back and get my legs back under me. Just try and do my part. Not get scored on. Chip in offensively when I can.”
That wasn’t always the case for the 18-year-old, as he put up 26 points in 37 games in his minor midget AAA season in Red Deer, before a 30-point campaign for the Red Deer Chiefs AAA squad in 2014-2015. Later that year he joined the Hurricanes and scored his first WHL goal on Feb. 3 of 2015.
Before that Vandervlis went undrafted in the WHL Bantam draft and was listed by Lethbridge. Come April in Windsor, Ont., where the Memorial Cup will be handed out, Vandervlis hopes to find himself on a much more exclusive list – one that includes the names of Memorial Cup champions.