Corner Brook’s Ian Skinner is shown during a Western Kings practice when he starred for the team. He just wrapped up his rookie season of junior hockey in Saskatchewan and he’s eager to head back west next season. — Star file photo
Ian Skinner has no regrets about heading west to hone his hockey skill set and he’s looking forward to doing it all over again next year.
The 19-year-old former Colemans Western Kings star began his post-major midget career with the Smith Falls Bears of the Ontario junior A hockey league, but he then decided to head west to join the Nipawin Hawks of the 12-team three-division Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in an effort to get more playing time.
“When I went out there I got more chances,” Skinner said earlier this week after arriving home Saskatchewan. “Instead of just fourth-line, I got a chance to play in other positions and other roles. I had more confidence going up after Christmas then I did before being traded and all, and I think my play got a lot better after Christmas.”
He also said the team got better with each game once they all found themselves on the same page.
“I thought our team played well and we clicked together as a team because we knew each other more,” he said.
Skinner is a speedy winger who picked up three assists in 32 games for the Hawks, who bowed out of the playoff picture by losing a best-of-five wild-card series to the Notre Dame Hounds in four games.
He likes his teammates, the coaching staff and the people he has met so he plans on working hard over the summer so he’s in tip-top shape for training camp in the fall.
He is going to hit the weights and follow a structured training regime over the summer to improve his stock for his sophomore season.
“I need to get physically stronger for next year and go up as a bigger body presence,” he said.
He plans on being in good shape for training camp because the coaching staff has sent a clear message to all the players: don’t make the mistake of resting on your laurels.
“They want me to come back, but nobody on the team is guaranteed a spot,” he said. “They don’t want us coming back out of shape and worst than we were this year. They want us to improve every single year and if we come back with a bad attitude and thinking we’re guaranteed a spot it’s not going to go so well. We need to go up with the right mindset and be better than we were this year.”