Written by: Jesse Michael
If there’s one player in the Team WHL line up for game six that will be counted on to lead by example and make a difference in what could be a deciding game in this year’s SUBWAY® Super Series, it’s Quinton Howden.
Howden is the only returning player to Team WHL that competed in last year’s World Junior tournament, and is one of the few who have experience playing against the Russians on an international stage.
“Quinton is a player is what you’d call a veteran for Team Canada,” said Team WHL and World Junior head coach Don Hay. “He brings a lot to the game. He’s a big strong, power forward with the experience of playing in the series and World Juniors.”
Hay also believes that Howden has handled the pressure quite well for a player taken in the first round of a Bantam draft.
“Anytime you’re a first round pick in any type of draft there’s going to be a lot of expectations,” Hay said. “It’s a learning process you go through to become a real solid, competitive player, and I think he’s done that. He’s taken the steps to make himself into a player that can play in many different situations and be counted on to make a difference in a game.”
Howden has even caught the ire of some of his fellow players in the WHL, as Regina Pats’ forward Jordan Weal believes that Howden could be soon ready to make the next step.
“He’s got NHL speed, there’s no denying it,” said Weal. “He’s got great speed wide and gets a lot of chances for himself using that speed. It makes him always a threat when he’s on the ice.”
Along to lend Howden a hand against the Russians is Weal, who is tenth in league scoring with nine goals and 29 points, and two first round draft picks from the 2011 NHL Draft, Duncan Siemens (SAS), and Mark McNeill (PA).
As well, the WHL’s leading scorer from the Brandon Wheat Kings, with 19 goals and 46 points, Mark Stone will suit up for team WHL.
Only three others on the game six roster were invited to the Hockey Canada’s Summer Development camp; goaltender Tyler Bunz (MH), Mark Pysyk (EDM), and Patrick Holland (TRI).
Assistant coach Ryan Huska doesn’t believe this will be a problem, but rather a good situation to have as it will create competition between the players.
“I think they have to look at it as an opportunity for sure,” Huska said. “Even though some weren’t invited summer camp this is still a great chance to show they deserve an invite at Christmas time.”
Also, with a lack of players who attended the summer camp, many could be one step behind their counterparts in terms of what Coach Hay expects of them come puck drop. Huska doesn’t think that’s the case.
“The guys playing in the series who were at summer camp have a good idea of what he’s [Coach Hay] looking for,” he said. “They’re going to have to set the tempo for the game. The other guys who are around Don for the first time are going to have to follow suit and contribute the same way.”
Game six can be seen live on Sportsnet at 7pm CST.