Sports editors note: Throughout the season, Miska and Olivier Mantha will write a column for the Penticton Western News giving readers insight to their lives either on the ice or away from the rink.
In my last article I wrote about playing for the USA National Development team, where I played in the USHL and faced National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 college competition. Starting off with the USHL, it is tier 1 hockey, which is the same as junior A in Canada. The playing style of the USHL is a little bit different from the BCHL. The USHL is more of a defensive league unlike here, where the style is more offensive. Playing in an offensive style game, I feel like there are a lot more scoring chances. Guys are getting the puck to the net as much as possible looking for the rebound and finding the opportunity to put it in the net. As a goalie, I find ways to put the puck in spots where the opposing team can’t get the rebound, which will make my job easier as well as my team.
Division 1 hockey, transitioning from the USHL to college wasn’t as much of a change as I thought. Guys are a lot stronger according to my forwards that were taking the pain from the hard hits. They are also very mature and patient with the puck. Making smart plays that would make guys come at them too far out then pass the puck to an open guy and they would find a scoring opportunity. Their shot speed was not hard to translate over, but their accuracy was very fine. I would say that division 1 hockey is just between both styles, I had been very lucky to be able to get that type of experience so when I get to that level I know what to expect.
I am really enjoying playing in the BCHL. I think it’s a wonderful league to be playing in and it is great to be able to gain the experience in all three of these leagues. It is going to be a big help with my hockey career so that I am ready for each level as I keep making my steps to the top of the hockey pyramid.