One door shut, but another one opened for Prince Albert’s Tanner Howe when the Regina Pats narrowly missed out on the playoffs.
Howe and teammate Connor Bedard missed getting their first taste of WHL post-season action, but were selected to represent Team Canada at the U-18 World Championships in Germany, which ran from April 23-May 1.
“Whenever you get the chance to represent your country it’s amazing,” Howe said. “It was an awesome experience over in Germany. Playing with Connor throughout the year and building that connection with him, and then being able to travel that far with him was pretty cool.”
Bedard spent some time in Europe before he was selected by the Pats first overall in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft. He suited up with Swedish club HV71, playing in five games split between the U18 and U20 squads when he was just 15 years old.
Howe says he was able to learn a little bit about the hockey atmosphere in Europe just from Bedard’s experience.
“I asked him what it was like and what I needed to bring and stuff like that,” Howe explained. “There were all sorts of things that I would talk to him about that, and he was a big help before we flew out.
“I think the biggest difference was the crowd. It was pretty electric, it was almost like a soccer crowd. It was pretty cool just to experience the atmosphere of a hockey game in Europe.”
Howe and Bedard entered the world championship as the only 16-year-olds on the Team Canada roster. While playing on the same team as guys who have a year or two more experience, Howe said it was cool to share that moment with the team, and he was able to chat a lot with players from other leagues across the country.
“It’s pretty cool getting to play with those older guys, and they do a good job of making you better,” he said. “They make you stronger and just build you up, so that obviously helped a lot. I got the chance to talk to some of the guys about their league and what’s going on and how their league has been. Some advice they told me was to keep going no matter what, and don’t get down on yourself and keep battling. “
While he was held pointless in the tournament and Canada was sent home after a quarterfinal loss to Finland, Howe reiterated how grateful he was for the opportunity to wear the maple leaf and represent his country, as well as getting the chance to play with the Pats this season.
“Just representing Canada is a huge honour for me, and I’m proud of myself for it. Getting the chance to meet some new guys and being able to travel the world is pretty cool and I think it’s pretty special.
“Going to Regina was huge for me, and it was really fun. Seeing what I was able to do, again I’m proud of myself, and hopefully I can do that again next year and build from there. To top off the season by going to the U18 was pretty special. It showed that all my work this year paid off to go to that. It’s pretty cool to see that and be rewarded. It builds more confidence heading into next year and playing with the older guys.”