Local hockey player back with WHL club after illness
The lineup is a pretty good place to be for an Airdrie area hockey player given he’s spent almost more time out of it than in this season.
Balzac’s Torrin White is back on the ice with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors after missing the last eight games with an illness. The 17 year old has picked up two assists since returning to the Warriors’ lineup, Jan. 15.
White’s hoping the illness is the last personal speed bump he’ll have to endure this season. Prior to it, he missed 14 games with a broken hand and has only played seven games since the end of October.
“This is the first time I’ve been healthy all year, so it’s been nice,” White said of his first few games back. “I’ve felt better than I have all year. I’m playing on one of the top lines and putting up points and the team’s making some progress lately, so it’s been good.”
Despite missing time, the sophomore Warrior is still on track to surpass his rookie points total of 17 from last season. In the 24 games he has drawn into, White has three goals and nine assists.
However, White says he was not disappointed with his first year in the WHL. He was given a chance to play in almost every role available to him, from a first-line playmaker to a third-line checker, and a chance to learn from some of the best Warrior veterans, like Quinton Howden and Kenton Miller, who are now both playing in the AHL.
A playmaker and a scorer in bantam with the Airdrie Xtreme and in midget with the UFA Bisons, White was also forced to adapt and learn how to play a more defensive game when he debuted with the Warriors in 2011, which he called the biggest learning curve of his first season.
“In bantam and midget, you can get away (with playing more offensively),” White said. “Up here one mistake will cost you. There’s a lot less time and space. Our coach (Mike Stothers) is a defence-first kind of guy and you have to learn how to play defence if you’re going to play here.
“You also have to take advantage of the opportunities you get,” he added. “If you’re put on the top line, you have to produce or you’re going to get bumped down to the third or fourth line.”
In between his injury and his illness, White has found success on the top line with Sam Fioretti, the team’s top scorer, and Tanner Eberle, and he said now that he’s healthy, it’s only a matter of time before he gets back into the rhythm of the game.
As a team, the Warriors have been struggling to finds its rhythm after making it all the way to the WHL’s Eastern Conference finals last season. In the off-season, the team lost a few key players, like Howden and Miller, to graduation and have tumbled to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, winning only 14 of its 47 games.
However, White said there’s still time for the Warriors to make a push for the playoffs. The team’s only 10 points behind the Saskatoon Blades, which are sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot and there’s still 25 games left in the regular season.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time,” he said. “Every two points is a step forward and the way we’ve been playing lately, we can give it a good push.”
The absence of the veterans that helped Moose Jaw to a deep playoff run last season has pushed White into a bigger leadership role this season.
“We don’t have many returning guys,” he said.
“Most of them are still in school, so you wouldn’t think a 17 year old would have a big role, but I do need to step and play more of a leadership role. Last year, learning from the guys prepared me for it.”