Spencer Penner’s first year with the Steinbach Pistons was an incredible one.
He says the switch from the Selkirk Steelers wasn’t too difficult, as he has been having a great time with the Pistons.
“It seems like making the move to Steinbach, it almost just felt like I'm back home playing the same hockey I've been playing my whole life. It seems like everyone last year on the team welcomed me with open arms, which made it very easy for me.”
Penner has evolved into an incredible defenseman throughout the last year, and is now one of the top shutdown D in the province.
“When I was in Selkirk, I had to be the one scoring goals, which isn't me. And then I came to Steinbach and I realized I don't have to play that role anymore.”
It took him five or six games without him scoring a point to fully accept that his role on the team isn’t scoring, it’s making sure the opposition doesn’t score when he is on the ice.
Penner says it was amazing to realize he can play defensively and not be taken out of the lineup, or not get his ice time cut because he is not producing points-wise.
The coaching staff was a huge support for him in building his confidence.
“I think having Bugyik on the back end there for D coach, he trusts me with throwing me out there for big penalty kills, or last minute in the game or whatever. He usually throws me out there in those situations, so I think having that happen was kind of the thing that boosted my confidence in that area of the game.”
When the Steinbach Pistons won the 2023 MJHL Turnbull Cup Championship, Penner fell in love with the game all over again.
“Lifting that trophy, it was something I'll never forget. It was one of the best days probably of my life. Lifting that trophy, you feel everything you've worked for in your life, it all paid off, and that whole year all the sweat and tears, it all paid off.”
He remembers being in the empty rink after the trophy celebration was finished and just soaking in the feeling of shutting down the rink with a championship.
“We just looked around and we just shook our heads like, ‘wow, that's it.’ And then two days later we had team pictures, and I clearly remember that it was gonna be the last time I would ever skate on this ice” he says. “So I remember soaking it in one last time just by myself, all the memories growing up on that ice surface, it was bittersweet.”
Penner remembers watching the 2013 win, watching the game with his dad and brother.
“Just being up there with one of the guys that have won in that rink, even won the Turnbull, it's something I'll never forget.”
This year, Penner hopes to grow in his leadership abilities.
“I want to be guiding some of the younger guys more, and I want to be there for the younger players and helping them out in their career. Just being a leader this year with our team, I think that's the way I want to grow as a player and as a person, just working on my leadership goals.”
With files from Dave Anthony
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