Age has its privileges. But Brayden Schuurman is certainly not intimidated by older players.
The 17-year-old Victoria Royals rookie forward, from Abbotsford, takes three goals and four points in six games into tonight’s Western Hockey League game against the Rockets in Kamloops.
“It’s important to stay aggressive. I’m not afraid to make a hit or take one if I have to,” said Schuurman.
It’s that attitude that has carried a mid-level fourth round bantam draft pick from 2019 into this position — he rose to captain Team B.C. at the 2019 WHL Under16 Cup — and one that should have Royals fans attuned to his progress on Blanshard Street in the seasons ahead.
The five-foot-nine, 180 pounder out of Yale Hockey Academy in the Fraser Valley has a non-stop motor.
In his 2019-20 season in U-18 for Yale, Schuurman had 40 points in 34 games and five points in five playoff games. The Royals would be more than happy if he performs at that roughly point-a-game-clip in his WHL career.
His drive to the net to score in Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to the Vancouver Giants was named WHL Highlight of the Night.
Schuurman is among 12 Victoria rookies gaining valuable experience in the pandemic-abbreviated 24-game WHL season, which should hold this youthful Royals Team Tomorrow in good stead in the years ahead.
“We’re getting closer every day in terms of trust and communication,” said Schuurman.
The GenNext is closely watching the example set by Royals veterans, such as captain Tarun Fizer and NHL first-round Anaheim Ducks draft pick Brayden Tracey.
“Those guys have been instrumental in telling us how things work in this league, and how to take care of each other and support each other as a team, and how to [conduct] yourself in a respectful manner off the ice,” said Schuurman.
The Royals have back-to-back games against the veteran-laden and favoured Kamloops Blazers (4-1) tonight in Kamloops and Sunday in Kelowna.
The Blazers feature players such as Calgary Flames first-round NHL draft pick Connor Zary and New York Rangers-goaltending prospect Dylan Garand of Langford, both silver medallists with Canada at the 2001 world junior championship, and projected 2021 second- or third-round NHL draft pick Logan Stankoven.
Extremely young and at 1-4-1 in a 24 game season with no playoffs, the Royals are in danger of falling out of touch in the standings.
“We’re in this to win the division and we’re still in it,” said Schuurman.
“We’re getting better every day and jelling more and more. People are going to see those results soon.” That’s the kind of defiance that will matter in September when it starts counting for the Royals in more normal times.