After playing his rookie season in the Subway WHL Hub, Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Denton Mateychuk is ready to show the Mosaic Place faithful what he’s capable of.
“We saw a glimpse the other night against Brandon of what he does,” Mark O’Leary, head coach of the Warriors, said.
“He does it with his feet first, whether it’s going back to get pucks, but certainly getting going north in a hurry and he generates a lot of offence that way and when he’s playing well, he’s a one-man breakout.”
Mateychuk was selected by the Warriors in the first round of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft and made his debut with the club during the 2019-20 season, playing in seven games.
The Dominion City, Manitoba product played in 16 games last season in the Hub, posting two goals and nine points.
He said he took a lot away from that experience.
“I learned a lot,” Mateychuk said. “The compete of the league, how structured everything is, how hard everyone works, it’s definitely a tough league to play in and getting a taste of it, really is going to prepare me for this season.”
Mateychuk’s skating is his strongest attribute, allowing him to put pressure on the opposition by leading, or joining the rush, but also helps him in the defensive end.
The 17-year-old defenceman said improving his play in his own end was his biggest focus this offseason.
“I’m always working on my deception, which I found was one of my strongest things, but defensive position and my shooting were the biggest things I tried to work on,” he said.
The hard work is paying off, as through three preseason games, Mateychuk is leading the Warriors with four assists.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot over the summer and definitely try and put that into use,” he said.
O’Leary said Mateychuk is playing like a player with more than 23 games of WHL experience.
“He’s comfortable in his surroundings,” he said. “I remember as a 15-year-old, he was playing in games in Winnipeg and he was quarterbacking the power play.
“A lot of these kids, they come in, they have nerves of steel and they’re certainly confident, so you want to put them in positions where you can put that on display.”
Mateychuk is eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft and he said that will definitely be in the back of his mind during the season, but it’s not his focus.
“It fuels me, it gives me something to look forward to, but it’s not the biggest thing,” he said.
“I think we’re a playoff team and that’s what we’re looking forward to now.”
The Warriors are off to a 3-0 start in training camp. They return to the ice this weekend with a home-and-home series against the Regina Pats, starting on Friday night at Mosaic Place.