Stephenson Adjusting life in the GMHL
Defenceman Eric Stephenson now understands why the Renegades team slogan is “United in Red”.
The 18-year-old has been welcomed into the Renegades family and quickly learned that a team-first mentality is spread across the entire dressing room.
“Everyone has been very inviting to talk to and be around,” said Stephenson, who played his minor hockey with the Leaside Flames. We all want to win as a team over scoring goals and being individuals. It has been fun playing on a competitive team with great players.”
New to the league, the rookie quickly noticed that the tempo in the GMHL is much faster and stressed how the structure coach Darryl Lloyd has implemented has made the transition a little easier.
“The pace of everything is faster, making communication with your team much more important,” said Stephenson, who considers himself an offensive defenceman with a pass-first mentality. “Set power play lines, breakouts and offensive plays are much more common. There are more impromptu changes to our playing style.”
Stephenson, who started out as a forward but moved to defence as his minor hockey career went on, said he originally didn’t model his game after a particular player but now has started to pay attention to a certain Colorado Avalanche defenceman.
“I like how smooth Cale Makar looks while playing and I try to incorporate that into my play,” he said.
Named the best defenceman in the Leaside Flames organization in 2018, Stephenson credits his parents for helping him during his playing career.
“They are the reason I started and still do play,” said Stephenson, who won a coveted Silver Stick tournament while with Leaside. “When I first started playing hockey they would give me a dollar for a goal and two dollars for an assist so that is probably where my passing mindset started.
“I never understood how much time my parents lost to drive me to every practice, game and tournament because it was such a normal thing. I never had to worry about missing anything I wanted to do. Although I could skate better than them since I was 5, without them I would not be the player I am today.”
The Renegades hope Stephenson continues to grow as a player as the team continues its quest to take home the Russell Cup this season.
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