A local Prince Albert product will look to fill a role left behind by one of the highest profile junior hockey players in history.
The Regina Pats named Tanner Howe as the 82nd captain in franchise history late last month. Howe takes over the “C” from Connor Bedard, who was selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft and is expected to make the team as an 18-year-old.
Howe says he is excited to be the captain of the Pats for this upcoming season.
“I was super honored (and) so grateful to be wearing the C this year. If you look at the organization and all the guys that have already this year for this team, I mean, last year (was) Connor Bedard. For me to get (it) this year, I was so grateful for it.”
Last season, Bedard posted 143 points in 57 games for Regina and generated a buzz around the Pats, selling out buildings across the league wherever the team played from B.C. to Prince Albert.
Howe says he does feel some pressure replacing a player of Bedard’s caliber but will not try to match him.
“I think there’s pressure. You’re obviously not going to be Connor Bedard. There’s pressure in different situations and just controlling that.”
Howe, who does not turn 18 until Nov. 28, becomes the third player to ever be named the captain of the Pats at age 17, joining the previously mentioned Bedard and Barret Jackman.
“With Tanner, he is a fierce competitor, a workhorse, and off-season “rink rat”.” Regina Pats Head Coach Brad Herauf said in a press release. “Tanner will lead by example, always giving his teammates, coaches and the organization, his best effort and utmost respect. We feel that what Tanner does on and off the ice, is a ‘Pats standard’ and one that we want all current and future Regina Pats players to model themselves after. This will be a strong leadership group with Parker (Berge) and Braxton (Whitehead) supporting Tanner, along with our veteran core.”
So far this season, Howe and the Pats have gotten out to a 2-2-1-0 start in five games. Regina has lost three of their top four scorers from last year’s team with Bedard, Alexander Suzdalev and Stanislav Svozil all heading off to the professional hockey ranks.
Howe finished third on the Pats in scoring last season with 85 points in 67 games. He says Regina will still be a competitive team this year despite losing those three key players.
“I think this year we are a hard-working team. We’ll go to war every night, doesn’t matter the opponent. I think this year we just got to grind a little more to score more goals. We don’t have those guys like (Alexander) Suzdalev, (Stanislav) Svozil and Connor Bedard to score the goals for us. I think we just got to work as one unit and I think we’ll be good after that.”
Because of how late his birthday falls, Howe was not eligible for the NHL Entry Draft last season. Some early projections have Howe tabbed to be a late first round selection in the upcoming 2024 NHL Entry Draft.
Howe says he isn’t changing the way he plays in his first season of draft eligibility.
“I don’t think it changes that much. There’s a little more pressure on me to meet those expectations of myself and meet my goals. I don’t look at it too much, I just focus on myself and focus on the team and how we do.”