Ryan Schoettler doesn’t feel old but his birth certificate confirms it.
He’s now one of the elder statesmen of the Prince George Cougars.
There are no deep wrinkles on his 20-year-old face but he's now sporting a beard, albeit one that has no gray whiskers.
“It’s weird being the old guy, it still feels you’re kind of 18,” said Schoettler. “It’s a big change coming in this year and then next year not coming back to Prince George. It will be different.”
Schoettler has been a Cougar ever since the team drafted him in the seventh round as a 14-year in April 2014 when he was still finishing up his bantam career in Lloydminster, Alta. He’s been one of the most durable defencemen in the league the past two seasons, having missed just one game in that time, and has continued to show his offensive capabilities.
“I’ve been working hard on my offence, just trying to help out more in the offensive zone,” said the five-foot-10, 174 pound Schoettler. “It’s hard but that’s kind of what I want to be, an offensive guy, especially with the way the game’s moving.”
Last year, on a team that struggled to produce goals, Schoettler finished fourth in Cougar scoring with four goals and 28 assists for 32 points and he knows he will be expected to produce again this season as one of the go-to pointmen on power plays.
Last season he was often paired with Cole Moberg and the two complemented each other well. Moberg who had a breakout season last year and was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the seventh round.
Schoettler scored one of the six goals the Cougars scored in their five-game preseason, playing most often with 16-year-old rookie Ethan Samson.
Left winger Josh Maser and defenceman-turned-forward Austin Crossley are the other returning Cougars who will fill the three 20-year-old spots on the roster.
The six-foot-one, 210-pound Crossley played 66 games last season, mostly on defence. He likes to use his body to disrupt traffic. In 66 games last season he had three goals, nine points and led the team with 146 penalty minutes.
Maser also has a reputation as a body basher. He finished second in team scoring with 42 points and was the only Cougar to score 30 goals in 2018-19. which earned him an invitation to the New York Rangers’ rookie camp.
“He’s a big help for our team, he’s a big body and he intimidates the other teams quite a bit and he can score goals,” said Schoettler.
The Cougars begin their 26th season in Prince George on Friday when they host the Vancouver Giants at CN Centre.