Howe forging own path in Regina

In 127 career WHL games, Tanner Howe has 57 goals and 141 points.

From the outside looking in, it’d be easy to assume choosing the CHL route was an obvious option based on the torrid start to his junior career.

But for the Regina Pats forward, it wasn’t quite that straight forward. At least initially.

“I was 50-50 going into the draft,” said Howe who was the 73rd overall pick in the 2020 WHL Draft but the second overall selection by Weyburn in the SJHL Draft. “I told teams I was 50-50. I was even practicing with Weyburn for a bit.

“But, I sat down and talked with my agent and parents and decided the CHL would be a better route especially with the scholarship and the schooling so that was the main reason why I picked it. I’m glad I went the CHL route.”

After he got a cup of coffee in 2020-21, Howe’s rookie season a year later was sensational. He recorded 69 points (27 goals) in 64 games and was then rewarded with a spot on Canada’s gold-medal winning Hlinka Gretzky Cup team. On a roster that featured some of the top prospects for the 2023 NHL Draft, such as Colby Barlow, Andrew Cristall and Brayden Yager, Howe was the only player chosen who wasn’t draft eligible.

“It was an awesome time,” Howe said. “Getting a chance to play was a huge honour but winning gold I think that was the best part about it.

“It was pretty cool winning and it’s a lifetime memory.”

While he is still another year from hearing his name called at the NHL Draft, he’s spent ample time learning about the process. And who better to learn from than teammate, and the consensus no. 1 overall pick later this year, Connor Bedard?

“You see the questionaries they get, talking about that, or just going out for dinner and picking his brain about how it works, it’s huge and it’s helped me a lot [already],” Howe said. “It’s pretty special to be around that kind of guy every day and see what he does every day to make him want to be the best and what he does to try to be the best.

“You see what he does on the ice but off of the ice, it’s pretty special and he’s a good person to learn off of.”

While Bedard has rightfully stolen all of the attention in Regina this year, Howe has put together another brilliant campaign. His 29 goals and 70 points are already new career highs, with 12 games left in the regular season, but when asked where his game has improved the most, the 17-year-old immediately pointed to his 200-foot game.

“Coming into this season I really wanted to work on that and put time into it,” he said. “I think that’s been my biggest improvement the last two years.

“[I’m also] making quick plays, being quick with the puck and my feet. I think that helps a lot.”

The Pats meet the Winnipeg ICE, whose 48 wins are the most in the CHL, tonight on TSN. Regina sits sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 29-24-3 record but have won four straight as they look to lock in a playoff spot.

And with a lineup that in addition to Bedard and Howe features Alexander Suzdalev (WSH) and Stanislav Svozil (CBJ), there’s belief that the Pats can beat any team on any given night.

“We’re on a four-game winning streak,” Howe said. “That gives us some confidence … we’re a really fast team. We’re not the biggest team, we’re not going to outhit guys but we can out-skate them. I think that’s our biggest attribute.”

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