Patience is a virtue for Keegan Stevenson.
The rookie Guelph Storm forward has had to bide his time this season, seeing spot duty most nights.
But injuries to teammates and increasing trust from coach George Burnett has seen Stevenson play a lot more of late.
Stevenson has just four goals on the season, but three of those have come in the past eight games, where he has seen regular action.
“It is very nice to get the chance to go out there and show what I can do to help support the team. It’s going pretty good,” the Sault Ste. Marie native.
He said he knows he has to be patient and Burnett has been constantly supporting him and help keeping him motivated.
His improved production of late is a combination ice time plus confidence.
“It’s a confidence thing. Just knowing that you’re going to get more ice time allows you to play to your ability and show everyone what you’ve got,” he said.
He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection after scoring 17 goals in 21 games in a season he missed a chunk of due to injury.
Born on Dec. 31, 2000, he would have been in the 2017 draft had he been born a few hours later.
He spent last year playing tier II hockey with the Soo Thunderbirds, scoring 12 goals in 54 games.
He managed to keep a level head while not playing much.
“It’s knowing the situation, keeping your head in the game even though you know you’re not going to be playing as much, just support the boys and keep them motivated,” Stevenson said.
He gets some sage advice from his dad Jeremy, who went through the same thing when he started out in junior hockey.
The elder Stevenson was a rugged winger with the Cornwall/Newmarket Royals who went on to be a third-round draft pick in the NHL, eventually playing in 228 NHL games and many more in the minors.
“He’s always calling me after every game. Just giving me motivation to keep on working hard, every practice, every game,” Keegan Stevenson said. “He went through it as well.”