The last month has seen a few big milestones for Prince Albert Mintos blueliner Chase Pauls.
After being named a first team all-star at the Mac’s Midget Tournament in Calgary in late December, the 16-year-old got the call up to join the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Pauls finished off his three-game stint in style on Jan. 11 as he scored his first career WHL goal in a 7-2 home triumph over the Swift Current Broncos.
“I just shot it (the puck) from the blueline and I didn’t think it was going to go in the net,” Pauls said. “Once I realized that it had gone in the net, I was pretty happy and excited.
“It was really cool to be up with the Hurricanes and see what things are like in the WHL, especially since I was there during the trade deadline. There were some adjustments that I had to make when it came to their systems and the overall speed of the game, but I had guys like (overage defencemen) Ty Prefontaine and Koletrane Wilson helping me out, along with the Hurricanes’ coaches.”
After not being selected in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, Pauls signed a standard player agreement with the Hurricanes last August after posting 34 points in 32 games with the Warman Midget AA Wildcats.
He moved up to the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League this season and is second in defensive scoring on the Mintos with 18 points in 31 games.
“His progression has been strong throughout the season,” Mintos head coach Danton Danielson said. “Chase is a big guy that we rely on to play a lot of minutes on the back end and he’s really developed a poise out there that allows him to stay calm under pressure.
“He’s always been an offensive-minded player, but I think he’s starting to get dialed in as to when to use that part of his game in the most effective way.”
The progression in Pauls’ play was evident at the Mac’s Tournament in December as he posted five points in four round-robin games during the Mintos’ run to the quarter-finals.
“I think that was a great experience for everyone and it was cool to play against some different teams, especially the AK Bars Academy from Russia,” Pauls said.
“We battled through some adversity that week and we all gained a lot of confidence from that tournament.”
Pauls and the rest of the Mintos, who are in fifth place in the SMAAAHL standings with a 20-12-1-0 record, will be back in action on Saturday afternoon in Shellbrook against the 23-11-1-0 Saskatoon Contacts before paying a visit to the 11-18-1-2 Battlefords Stars on Sunday.
“Our practices have been going well and we’re working on building some things not just for this road trip, but for the rest of the regular season,” Pauls said.
“Our overall consistency is the biggest thing that we are focusing on right now as we’ve been up and down all season. We’re hoping that we can keep moving in the right direction and make a run here in the playoffs.”