Arshdeep Bains and Co. embracing the spotlight as season winds down

Arshdeep Bains is very aware of what he has become this season.

The six-foot-one, 183-pound left winger from Surrey, B.C. has been on a meteoric rise in his third WHL season.

With nine games to go in the Red Deer Rebels season, Bains said his line along with Ben King and Jace Isley, especially in the latter half of the year, has begun to embrace the spotlight that’s been pointed on them as the de facto number one unit.

They’ve often lined up against the top defence pair or forward unit of their opponents.

“At the beginning, yeah it was a little bit of pressure, knowing that you have to be 100 per cent every night if the team has a chance to win,” said Bains, who has been alongside King since he arrived in a trade from Swift Current earlier this year.

“It’s been a long year, we’re out of that now. We’re happy, we love our role and we want to be the best players on the ice. It’s a driving factor.”

The 19-year-old before this season over 103 games, had just eight goals, 17 assists. Through 59 contests this year has career highs in goals, assists, points, power play goals, short handed goals and game-winning goals.

Bains is currently the Rebels top point producer and as he began to breakout this season, it’s been fun to watch. He has 17 goals, 31 assists for 48 points while playing every game this season. He also has five power play goals, the first of his career and four game-winning goals, also the first of his career. His 0.81 points-per-game are more than double what he’s been able to produce so far in his WHL career.

So, how did it happen?

“This year has felt a lot different than last year. A lot more confidence, more ice, bigger role to play and just fitting in and getting used to the role and getting better at it,” said Bains with his typical modesty.

At times this season Bains has looked a lot like Brandon Hagel did last season, taking over games, dominating shifts and lifting up his linemates against the top opponents on the other side. It’s confidence that has helped that as much as anything, but it also appears the game at the WHL level is finally slowing down for the talented winger.

“The most improved I’ve been is not just making rush plays, holding the puck, protecting the puck and making smart reads. It helped my overall game offensively,” said Bains, who was also quick to credit his linemates with embracing the elevated expectations.

“In the d-zone, getting pucks and making smart plays and being reliable. That’s all been good. Hopefully, it all gets better.”

If it were to get better next season, as a 19-year-old Bains will surely be one of the Rebels who is relied upon night in and night out, a role he’s already thinking about how to get better at.

“Off-season training is going to be even better this year. Going to work even hard, work on getting more shots on net and being a two-way threat, with more speed and strength,” he said.

For all of what this season has become, the B.C. teen also had a unique moment on a road trip through B.C. earlier this season.

Bains was featured on Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi on Feb. 15, a moment that he and his whole family were proud of.

“That was cool. I’ve always seen it on TV, a lot of people got to see it and heard about the story. It’s big for my culture, it was pretty awesome to be a part of that,” he said.

“I never thought they would do that, it was exciting. People get to hear my story. (My family) texted me after, they saw it on TV, it was awesome.”

The Rebels will host the red hot Spokane Chiefs on Friday, for the one and only meeting this season. Spokane has won seven in a row and nine of the last 10. Red Deer will also host the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday night.



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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