Keith Hershmiller

2020-21 Pats season in review part 3: forwards


The goaltending and the defense have been covered in parts one and two of the Pats season in review.

Now it is time to cover the forwards.

Much like the goaltending, the Pats offense was a tale of two parts. Part one was the first 15 games, and the second part was the last nine games.

With an exceptional player in the lineup, the Pats scored 53 goals in 15 games for a 3.53 average and went 6-6-2-1. Without this player in the lineup, the Pats only connected 23 times in 9 games for a 2.56 average.

And finally, the forwards…

Carson Denomie

Carson Denomie (Keith Hershmiller/WHL)

The only overage forward on the Pats roster came out guns blazing early on. While playing on a line with the Pats 15-year-old phenom he scored 12 times in the first 15 games while adding five assists. With the Pats offense drying up in the last nine games it affected the Regina product. Denomie picked up six points in the final nine games of the season including a pair of goals. In 222 career WHL games, Denomie had 109 points with the Blazers, Warriors, and his hometown Pats. His offense came to life in Regina picking up 60 of his points (30G, 30A) in just 70 games.

Carter Chorney

Carter Chorney (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

For some of the Hub season, Chorney found himself in the Pats’ top-six forward group. The nineteen-year-old veteran played in all 24 games this season and was able to find the back of the net four times and assisted on eight others. Like many other forwards, he was snake bitten at times but matched his 2019-20 output. Last season with Pats, he had 12 points in 37 games after being acquired from Swift Current.

Carter Massier

Carter Massier (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

Coming off an injury-shortened 2019-20 season, the 19-year-old winger showed flashes of brilliance in the Hub. But like many of the veteran forwards Massier had trouble with consistency, especially in the offensive zone. He averaged 0.5 points per game with 12 points (5G, 7A) in 24 games this season. In his previous 71 games, he has 15 points (8G, 7A), so it could easily be said he had a career year.

Logan Nijhoff

Pats captain Logan Nijhoff (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

Named Pats captain for the 2020-21 season and it suited him. His offense started coming around this season and at times carried the team on his back. With 17 points (10G, 7A), Nijhoff finished fourth on the team in scoring. He was awarded the Pats Community Service award and his play earned him the Unsung Hero award. The nineteen-year-old center led the WHL in faceoff attempts (628) and wins (336). In 174 career games, Nijhoff has 74 points (36G, 38A).

Zack Smith

Zack Smith (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

The last of four nineteen-year-old forwards had a slow start but finished strong in the Hub. One of the more consistent players with the Pats played well in all situations and put up some decent numbers.  Smith finished fifth in scoring on the Pats with a solid 15 points (7G, 8A) in 20 games. His play garnered him the Pats’ award for the most sportsmanlike player. In 71 career games, Smith has 34 points (19G, 15A).

Jakob Brook

Jakob Brook (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

His season ended just one shift in when he crashed heavily into the end boards. The Roblin, Manitoba product was looking for big things which unfortunately he was not able to do. Injuries have hampered Brook for much of his junior career. He was a key piece in the Max Paddock trade last season. He has played 108 games picking up 22 points (10G, 12A) split between the Raiders and Pats.

Cole Carrier

Cole Carrier (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

After picking up six points in 18 games in 2019-20 after being acquired from Kelowna, people had high hopes for Carrier. This year he played more of a checking role and never got the offense going scoring once and assisting on a second in 18 games. He missed a few games with an injury which may have also hampered his production.

Drew Englot

Drew Englot (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

The Pats 2019-20 rookie of the year came in looking to expand on a successful first season. Englot started in the top six early on but never seemed to get in stride. He was then shuffled down to a checking line role and his numbers took a hit. After scoring 12 goals in 56 games as a rookie, he scored just twice in 24 games. In 80 career games, he has 14 goals, 10 assists for 24 points.

Cole Dubinsky

Cole Dubinsky (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

The ups and downs of Dubinsky continued in the East Division Hub. Consistency is key and that is one of the areas a lot of Pat players struggled with, and Dubinsky felt it. Statistically speaking, he had a decent season picking up 14 points (5G, 9A) in 21 games before missing the end of the season with an injury. In 131 career games with the Pats, he has 47 points (16G, 31A).

Easton Armstrong

Easton Armstrong (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

Armstrong, a big power forward from Los Angeles played a crash-and-bang role with the youngsters. Another of the late-round picks (10th round in 2018) that the Pats have on the roster had a pair of points (1G, 1A) in 23 games in the Hub.

Sloan Stanick

Sloan Stanick (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

Seventeen-year-old Stanick found his role as a checker for the 2020-21 season. He played well when he was called upon. His six points (1G, 5A) in 24 games were better than his rookie year when he had just four points (2G, 2A) in 49 games.

Colby Wotton

Colby Wotton (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

A seventh-round pick in the 2018 Bantam draft, Wotton got into the lineup as one of the young grinder-types. The center from Foxwarren, Manitoba suited up for 15 games collecting a pair of points (1G, 1A).

Braxton Whitehead

Braxton Whitehead (Photo – Keith Hershmiller)

The 16-year-old from Alaska played well in a checking role with other young guys in the lineup. Whitehead, a third-round pick in 2019 scored once in 18 games in the Hub.

Connor Bedard

Connor Bedard (Keith Hershmiller/WHL)

The first-ever exceptional status player in WHL history lived up to and probably surpassed expectations. What is there to add to what has already been said about Bedard? In just 15 games he scored 12 goals and added 16 assists. When he was called to play for Canada at the World Under 18’s he was the Hub’s leading scorer. He was in on 52.8% (28 points of 53 goals) of the Pats offense while he was in the lineup. The Pats Rookie of the Year and co-Leading Scorer left with such a lead in points that it took until the last game of the season for Ryker Evans to tie his point total. What else is there to say? If you have watched him play, he has got the “it” factor.

Tanner Howe

Tanner Howe debut with the Pats – April 13, 2021 (Keith Hershmiller/WHL)

Was brought into the lineup when Bedard left to play for Canada. The fifteen-year-old Prince Albert product fit in nicely to the lineup. Howe may not be the biggest player, but he tried to play like it and played his way up the lineup and earned some top-end minutes. In eight games he picked up a pair of points (1G, 1A).

A quick look at 2021-22

Denomie will not be back as he has now graduated, and his goal-scoring (finishing) will most definitely be missed.

Some decisions will need to be made as there are four potential overage forwards: Nijhoff (captain), Chorney, Smith, and Massier.

Beyond the obvious offense of Bedard, the Pats do not have much now. John Paddock will have an interesting off-season as they need to add some scoring. Whether it comes from outside the organization or some of the returning guys get going, it will be an interesting next bit.

American forwards Zane Rowan (61st overall in 2019) and Borya Valis (list player) have both signed and are waiting in the wings. Samuel Huck (41st, 2019), Carter Cormier (91st, 2019), Brayden Barnett (179th, 2019), Matthew Wood (41st, 2020), Owen Beckner (137th, 2020), Brady Milburn (181st, 2020), and Matteo Michels (18th, 2020 US Draft) are some of the potential future.

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