After spending two years with the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Male Under-18 AAA Hockey League, Cole Tanchuk is ready to make the leap into the world of junior hockey.
The 16-year-old defenceman signed a contract with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Flin Flon Bombers last month and will join the program on a full-time basis next fall.
“It’s a nice feeling to know what’s ahead for me,” Tanchuk said.
“In talking to my coaches in Tisdale and some of my coaches in the past, they felt like I’m ready to play at the next level and I’m excited to join a team that’s always moving guys up to higher levels of hockey.”
A second round pick by the Bombers in the 2019 SJHL Bantam Draft, Tanchuk has been in contact with the team over the last couple of years.
“They’ve always wanted me to come up and play for them and everyone with the Bombers has been great to chat with,” said Tanchuk, who was also selected in the fifth round of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft by the Seattle Thunderbirds.
“I want to play hockey for as long as I can. To see the number of players that have played in Flin Flon and gone elsewhere is something that really stood out for me. Hopefully, the Bombers coaching staff can help me take my game to another level and I can keep playing that much longer.”
After spending two seasons in the then-named Bantam ranks for the Prince Albert Pirates, Tanchuk ventured away from home in the fall of 2019 to play for the Trojans.
“My time in Tisdale was awesome,” Tanchuk said. “The community, my billet family and everyone involved with the Trojans were great and I really enjoyed my two years there.”
Tanchuk had nine points (three goals and six assists) in 33 games during his rookie season and had two assists in three contests this year before the campaign was brought to a halt and eventually cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the things that I learned pretty early on was that making passes was so much harder at that (the Under-18) level, especially when you are playing against 18-year-old guys that are pretty much fully grown men,” Tanchuk said. “It can be hard to get around those guys so you need to make sure that your head is up and you are moving the puck as quick as you can.
“Over the last couple of years, I feel like my skating has really picked up and my shot has gotten a lot better. I’m in the gym often, I’m shooting pucks at home, and I’m skating three to four times a week doing power skating drills, which has all helped my game.”
A familiar face will join Tanchuk when he goes to Bombers camp later this year as Trojans netminder Hunter Lolacher has also signed with the team.
“There will be a lot of new faces for me when I get to Flin Flon but it will be great to have Hunter around,” Tanchuk said.
“My biggest focus going into the off-season is to have a stronger lower body so that it’s harder for the 20-year-old players to push me off of the puck. I’m also going to keep working on my getting my shot better as I try to beat the bigger goalies.”