It’s been a challenging year for the Regina Pats, who are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the third straight season, but Prince Albert’s Tanner Howe has been one of their bright spots.
The 16-year-old has been one of Regina’s biggest contributors after bursting on to the scene in October. Howe has exploded offensively in his rookie year in the WHL, with 62 points in 59 games, and sits second in team scoring behind only (to nobody’s surprise) Connor Bedard, who leads with 87 points.
“The biggest thing has just been my teammates,” Howe said. “They’ve been helping me out and it’s helped me to play with confidence all over the ice.”
Howe returned to the Art Hauser Centre last weekend, where the Raiders downed the Pats 6-1. With four goals against the Raiders this season, he says it’s special when he gets to play at home in front of friends and family.
“It’s pretty awesome to hear them cheering for someone on the other team,” he said. “The last time I scored here they were pretty loud. Just to get to play in front of family and friends, it’s pretty cool.”
Getting the chance to play with Bedard has been a unique experience for Howe as well. Getting opportunities to play on the same even strength line as him, as well as the powerplay, has made the whole season a learning experience.
Howe has been able to take what he has learned every game into the next one, which has kept him consistent with his approach.
“He’s so skilled and he always finds a lane to get the puck to me,” Howe said of Bedard. “It helps a lot when you have a guy like him on your line to set you up. I think I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I’ve been playing with confidence, and that’s the biggest thing.”
Time is running out for the Pats to climb back into the playoff picture. The club currently six points behind the Swift Current Broncos of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with just five games left in their regular season. Regina will have to win out to even have a chance of being within shouting distance by the end of the year.
Howe explained how Regina is approaching these final five games in order to give themselves a shot at cracking into the top eight.
“We just have to keep out working the other teams. We pretty much have to win all of our games, and the only way we can do that is by outworking the other teams.”
Even if they do miss out on the postseason, Howe will still have a lot of positive takeaways from his first season in the dub. The way he was quickly able to adjust to the WHL level proved to be beneficial for him, and he will look to build on his impressive 2021-22 campaign next season.
“(I) just have to keep working hard,” he said. “When I work hard I play good. It’s important to not get frustrated when things don’t always go your way, and keep pushing through. It was a relief when I scored my first (WHL) goal just to get it out of the way. Obviously it took me a little bit, I had a bit of a slow start. Once I scored my first, I just kept playing that style of hockey and kept playing with confidence, and it helped me out a lot.”
Howe and the Pats are set to host the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night at the Brandt Centre.