Prior to getting his first taste of Western Hockey League action in a pre-season game Thursday at the Art Hauser Centre, Prince Albert product and Saskatoon Blades defensive prospect Marek Schneider had a chance to get some advice from his older brother and Brandon Wheat Kings blueliner Braden.
“We talk almost every day,” Schneider said. “The biggest thing he told me before tonight was just to enjoy the experience and learn as much as I can so I can be able to come into the league as a 16-year-old next year.”
The second round pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft made a great first impression with the Blades as he got to start the game and also had an assist on Braden Plaschewsky’s first period goal in a 5-3 win over the Prince Albert Raiders.
“It was a little bit different coming in here as the visiting team and being on a rival team,” Schneider said.
“However, it was still a really cool feeling to be on the ice to start the game and to also get a point at home.”
After putting up 22 points in 30 games with the Prince Albert Bantam AA Raiders last season, Schneider signed an entry level contract with the Blades in May and has tried to learn as much as he can from the WHL club during the pre-season.
“I’m just trying to soak everything in from all of the guys on the back end here and learn how I can get better from this experience,” Schneider said.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned already is that you don’t have a lot of time to think out there. As soon as you get the puck, you need to make the pass right away, so it’s a bit of a change of pace.”
Although Schneider is still learning the nuances of major junior hockey, Blades head coach Mitch Love believes that the 15-year-old is doing a great job of adapting to his surroundings.
“It can be nerve-racking at that age to play against older guys, but Marek hasn’t looked out of place at all,” Love said. “He keeps things steady, he’s a strong kid and it’s been a pleasure to work with him so far.”
Schneider was one of four 2003-born players that the Blades had in their lineup Thursday.
Forward Colton Dach, who was taken with the sixth overall pick, got to play on the same line with his older brother and potential 2019 NHL Draft first round choice Kirby for the first time in his hockey career.
Fourth round selection Charlie Wright suited up on the blueline and 11th round pick Sammy May was on the fourth line.
“The big thing for us with that group is to have them gain of understanding of how we do things as an organization,” Love said. “That will give them a big advantage when they come in next year over guys that are new to the roster.”
For Schneider, his time with the Blades is something he plans to draw from as he suits up for the Prince Albert Mintos this season in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
“I think playing at a higher level is going to help me out a lot when I join the Mintos,” Schneider said. “Hopefully I can surprise some people in the league a little bit.”