Taylor Sanheim’s time with the Calgary Hitmen made a big impact on him.
Along with getting to play two seasons with his brother Travis, a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2014, the Elkhorn, Man., product also played with former BCHLer and New York Ranger prospect Adam Tambellini, Jake Virtanen of the Vancouver Canucks and Jake Bean, a Carolina Hurricanes prospect, who just earned a silver medal with Canada in the World Junior Championship, among other players.
Sanheim, who joined the Penticton Vees in a trade announced on Jan. 2 after being released from the Hitmen, learned from watching what those players do on and off the ice. Sanheim, 20, said as a younger player you look up to the older guys.
READ MORE: Vees acquire WHL veteran Taylor Sanheim
“When I was younger I definitely looked up to guys like Adam Tambellini,” he said. “Calgary always gets good guys.”
Sanheim enjoyed chemistry with his brother as they were always able to find each other on the ice.
“It was nice playing with him,” said Sanheim who talks to his brother almost daily.
Playing with Travis is among the highlights of Taylor’s time with the Hitmen. So was playing with Virtanen, Tambellini, Bean and his other teammates.
“There is a lot of good guys that go through that organization,” said Sanheim, who put up 12 goals and 51 points in 132 career regular season games with the Hitmen to go with seven points in 22 playoff games. “It was great playing there. We had some long runs in playoffs. I got some experience.”
Now Sanheim is set to make some new highlights and enjoy what he hopes in another long playoff run as he finishes his junior career with the Vees. Sanheim wanted to come further west and is excited about playing in the Western Canada Cup.
“It’s pretty good to come into that,” said Sanheim.
While talking about his time with the Hitmen, Sanheim said it was tough to leave an organization looking to get younger. He was a victim of the age rule as WHL teams can only carry three 20-year-olds. Before joining the Hitmen, Sanheim played in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with the Dauphin Kings and Portage Terriers. In 53 games he had 15 goals and 28 points in the 2013-14 season.
After collecting an assist in his first game as a Vee, Sanheim got his first goal in a 4-2 loss to the Vernon Vipers on Jan. 7.
Video courtesy of Jayson Moonie highlights Vees-Vipers game.
“It was pretty sweet. It was just a turnover and luckily I put it in the net,” he said. “I was just shooting as hard as I could.”
Sanheim, listed at five-foot-11, 190 pounds, describes himself as a hard-nosed player that likes to get in people’s faces a bit.
“I also think I can put some points up,” said Taylor, who has lined up with Duncan Campbell and Ryley Risling.
Sanheim’s third game with the Vees is Wednesday against the West Kelowna Warriors, the defending RBC Cup champions, who are fourth in the Interior Divison, one point back of the Trail Smoke Eaters. The Warriors last played in Merritt on Jan. 7 picking up a 4-1 win. Jake Harrison scored the winner, while Connor Sodergren had a two-goal performance. Cole Demers made 34 saves.
The Vees and Warriors last played on Nov. 22 at Royal LePage Place with the Vees winning 4-1. Nicholas Jones enjoyed a three-point performance, including two goals, one being the winner. Mat Robson made 36 saves. Defenceman Kenny Johnson will serve the last of his four-game suspension on Wednesday and is eligible to return Friday when the Vees are in Merritt.