Trey Patterson has come into his own this week at Red Deer Rebels main camp.
The young blueliner, selected by the Rebels in the second round of the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, has looked beyond his years on the ice so far.
At only 16, the Calgary native recognizes both the growth he’s shown in camp and what he still needs to do in order to be a WHL defenceman one day.
“It’s pretty fun. Learning from the big guys watching what they do and try and get better each day,” Patterson said.
“Playing more physical. It helps out more. The more physical you are, it’s easier to win battles, getting front of the net blocking shots and boxing guys out, it all helps out in the end.”
Likely on the outside looking in for a spot on the opening night Rebels roster, Patterson has come a long way since he showed up in rookie camp last spring.
“He’s gotten stronger and his skating is a lot better. He’s handling the puck better. He’s come a long way, he’s been really good here,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter.
“Yet, he’s 16 and we know where (Kyle) Masters is at, we’re not going to keep two 16-year-olds. He’s making a mark for himself as we go along.”
Patterson made the Calgary Buffaloes Midget AAA team as a 15-year-old last season and on some nights helped push the club to be one of the best Alberta Midget Hockey League teams this season.
He recorded just six points in 34 games and another four in 11 playoffs games for the Buffaloes. Those numbers, while not flashy, don’t quite point to the maturity that he gained through a dream season that led to a Telus Cup appearance.
Patterson and Rebels teammate Jayden Grubbe were part of the Buffaloes group that finished fourth at the Midget AAA National Championship. Sutter noticed how much that helped them grow.
“He’s grown as a player. He’s matured. He played on a real good midget team and they go to the Telus Cup. He had an opportunity to play,” Sutter said.
“This year, it is good for him to go through this experience and he’s gotta have a year of triple-A midget where he’s an elite player. “
That learning experience has translated to Red Deer, where he’s trying again to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
“From this year I learned maturity is key. Playing with guys two years older, it really helped me mature. Myself and how I play,” Patterson said.
“Just learning all about ice time, it’s not always going to be equal. Sitting on the bench you gotta learn to play a good game even if you don’t play all the time.”
As a player, the six-foot, 161-pound defenceman believes his biggest asset is his puck-moving ability.
“I’m really at my best when I’m going up ice and moving pucks fast. Not holding on to it and trying to beat people one on one,” he added.
The big problem for Patterson is a logjam of young defenceman fighting for spots on the Rebels.
Red Deer will likely only keep one 16-year-old blueliner and so far through five days of camp, Kyle Masters holds a slight edge in that regard. There are also three 17-year-old defencemen vying for a few spots, with Chase Leslie, Mason Ward and Blake Gustafson hopeful of making the opening night roster.
So, while a trip back to Midget AAA is probably in order for the 16-year-old, it might not be long before he’s knocking on the door in Red Deer.
Black wins first scrimmage of camp
Team Black got their first win of main camp with a 5-4 victory over Team White Wednesday. White lead 3-2 in the first half before the second half comeback from Black. White got goals from Brett Davis, Dallon Melin, Jayden Grubbe and Chris Douglas. Braden Fischer, Josh Tarzwell, Alex Morozoff, Zak Smith and Jace Isley scored for Black.