Former Portage Terrier Nick Henry was recently awarded the Nick Papas Rookie of the Year by the Regina Pats.
Henry, 17, lead Pat rookies in scoring most of the season. His regular linemates have been Sam Steel (WHL scoring leader) and Dawson Leedahl.
Henry, who won the MJHL rookie of the year award ;last season, was second among all WHL rookies with 80 points (35-45) in 70 games.
Henry is quick to credit last year’s experience with the Terriers for his success this season.
“Blake (Spiller) was a really good coach and he taught me to be a good player, and I have to give him a lot of credit for that,” Henry recently told the MJHL Website.
“The WHL is really built for 17, 18 and 19-year-old players, and a few 20-year-olds” said Henry. “Being a 16-year-old playing in the MJHL still offered me really good competition, and the ability to play with really good players, and I think it prepared me by showing me what junior hockey is like. The WHL is a different league than the MJHL, but the MJHL was still a great league to play in.
Henry admitted that leaving his hometown Portage was stressful.
“Starting this year off, it was a tough decision for my family to come here (to Regina), but when I did come there were a lot of players away at NHL camps, and that kind of gave myself and some other young guys the opportunity to step in and play big minutes for the first four games,” he said. “I was able to jump on a line with Sam Steel and Dawson Leedahl and we clicked.
“Sam is signed in the NHL (with the Anaheim Ducks) and he’s a really special player to play with, and watching him play every game and he the way he works is a really neat experience, and I want to get to where he is,” added Henry.
Playing on two dominant teams in back-to-back seasons has provided Henry a window to showcase his skills. And though young in age, he’s mature enough to realize having a legitimate chance at winning a championship in back-to-back years is unique opportunity.
“I’m really lucky to play on a team like this,” he said. “Even last year (with the Portage Terriers), after winning the RBC Cup the year before, they were not expected to do as much, but Blake (Spiller, Terriers head coach) was able to put together another strong team like he always does and we were able to win it and come one win away from the RBC Cup.
“And this year in Regina we have a lot of special players, and made some good deals to make us better for this year and next year, and it’s really exciting to be a part of.”