Two Swift Current Broncos finished the season among WHL league leaders.
Tyler Steenbergen tied Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Tyler Wong for the most goals in 2016-17 at 51, while Broncos forward Aleksi Heponiemi led all rookies with 86 points.
Steenbergen is one of five different 50-goal scorers in the WHL this season.
“I think it's mostly confidence,” Steenbergen said. “If you're down on yourself you're going to be thinking about it too much. I tried to stay positive. I was trying to be mentally tough this year. Even if things aren't going your way you have to look at the good things and try and black out the bad things.”
Steenbergen also finished first in the league in power play goals (19), game winning goals (12) and insurance goals (9).
“Being in the right place and at the right time is a huge part of it,” he said. “I think I get to the right spots when I have to be there. I worked on that a lot this summer just getting to the slot quick and getting my shot off quick.”
Last season Steenbergen only scored twice in the first half before getting hot and striking for 18 in the second half. He credits coaching for keeping him positive when the puck wasn't going in.
“It was really frustrating,” Steenbergen said. “I knew I was getting those chances and I knew if I stuck with it it would eventually go in the net. (Former Coach/GM) Mark Lamb was great with me last year letting me know I'm getting those chances and they'll come. I've got to give him a lot of credit for keeping me positive.”
Steenbergen wasn't picked in the 2016 NHL draft nor was he invited to any NHL rookie camps over the summer. He used that as motivation to push him this season.
“I didn't think I was going to get drafted but I thought I had a chance at getting an invite,” noted the product of Sylvan Lake, Alberta product. “When I didn't get one of those it drove me the whole summer to get a lot stronger. I hope I'm proving them wrong right now and hopefully I'll get a chance this summer.”
The Broncos improved from 189 goals in 2015-16 to 247 goals this season. Current coach Manny Viveiros took over this summer and Steenbergen feels help push their offensive output.
“Manny came in with a system,” Steenbergen said. “He was an offensive player and I think that's what he wants. The game is growing a lot too. It's getting to be a more offensive game and it's allowing for guys who are smaller and more skilled to create a lot of offence for themselves.”
Now Steenbergen and the Broncos move on to a first round WHL playoff series against the Moose Jaw Warriors starting this Friday. They know they are in for a good battle with a team that finished five points ahead of them in the standings.
“They're an offensive heavy team,” Steenbergen said. “They've got a well rounded group. We've got to get on them. We know they don't like to get hit so we want to hit back and punish them a little bit and hopefully come away with the series victory.”
The series starts on Friday and Saturday in Moose Jaw before returning to Swift Current next Tuesday and Wednesday. Fan bus tickets for the games in Moose Jaw and tickets for the games in Swift Current are both available at the Stable.