One of the most memorable moments of Tyler Steenbergen’s hockey career came in the rink he remembers coming to as a child.
The Swift Current Broncos forward and Sylvan Lake native buried a hat trick against the Rebels last Saturday in front of a large contingent of family and friends at the Centrium.
“You always want to play good in front of your family. I was just very fortunate to get those goals, and my teammates made some great plays on them,” said Steenbergen, 19, last week. “It was special and I’ll probably remember it for quite a while.”
Steenbergen is a modest player, one who still has trouble taking credit, and a “good small town Canadian kid” as Don Cherry would say.
In his third WHL season with the Swift Current Broncos, Steenbergen is on a tear this year.
In just 55 games, he has 43 goals and 72 points, smashing his totals from last season when he was first eligible for the NHL Draft.
He went undrafted in 2016, but with a 50-goal campaign easily within reach, he likely won’t be passed over again.
The five-foot-10, 181-pound centre was ranked at 138th on the NHL Central Scouting watch list earlier this year, but is doing his best to focus on the day-to-day grind of the WHL.
“It would be nice, but at the same time, we’re looking for wins right now and we want to make a good push in the playoffs,” he said.
Steenbergen was selected in the first round, 12th overall by the Broncos in 2013 WHL Bantam draft. He took a bit of time to develop into the lethal scorer his is now.
At 16, he scored five times in 72 games, and followed with 20 goals in 2015-2016.
Steenbergen said confidence and playing with great players has made the difference this year.
“Without them I wouldn’t be where I am,” he said.
The scoring touch had always been there for the left-shot centre, as a 13-year-old he actually suited up for three games with the Red Deer Rebels Midget AAA team and put up two goals in two games.
In his third year with the Rebels Bantam AAA squad back in 2012-2013, he scored 39 times and recorded 28 assists for 67 points in just 32 games.
He then joined the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs for one season, where he produced at almost a point-a-game pace with 31 points in 32 contests.
At 19, Steenbergen has now reversed roles with the guys he remembers coming to the rink and watching in Red Deer.
“I grew up idolizing the Rebels. Every player on their team I probably knew who they were and had getting those hockey cards and stuff, it’s pretty special coming here,” he said.
If he keeps up his meteoric rise, he might join some of his idols on NHL ice one day.