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The biggest thing I've learned is how hard to work

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If any young hockey player needs to find a role model to look up to, they need not look any further than Swan River’s own Tristin Langan. For starters, Langan dominated minor hockey right from squirts level all the way through the Bantam AAA level and was drafted in the ninth round of the Western Hockey League’s 2013 Bantam Draft. Realistically, late round picks aren’t typically kids who end up “making it” to the ‘dub. But then, Langan wasn’t just your average ninth round pick.
Despite being cursed with the dreaded late birth date (Langan was born on Dec. 15, 1998), Langan’s only concern once the skates were on was how hard he would compete night after night. Often being one of the youngest players on the ice meant little to Langan, who was just as often the hardest working player on the ice. In the midst of wrapping up his fifth and final year of junior hockey, Langan has went from a late round pick of the Moose Jaw Warriors to finishing one point behind the league leader in the WHL scoring race this season.
The season as a whole couldn’t have gone better for the 20-year-old centreman.
“The season has gone great so far,” said Langan. “Our team has been having a lot of success when not many people thought we would. Playing in a bigger role this year has helped me a lot and also playing beside guys like (Justin) Almeida and (Brayden) Tracey has benefited me a lot.”
Langan began his junior career as a not yet turned 16-year-old back in the 2014-15 season with his hometown Swan Valley Stampeders, where he picked up 25 points in 58 games. He would go on to add three goals in a short lived, four game playoff series that garnered him the Stamps’ playoff MVP award.
After starting the following season with the Stamps, it was around the time he was celebrating his 17th birthday when he got the call to join the Warriors and he hasn’t looked back since.
“I still follow the Stamps,” he said. “I played there when I was 16 and 17 years old and it was a blast. It’s great to see them having such a good season this year.”
As one of three 20-year-olds on this year’s Warriors’ team, Langan finally got the opportunity to play top line minutes in the WHL, something he has taken full advantage of.
With the turnover the Warriors had to endure from last season, skeptics figured the Warriors would struggle this year but Head Coach, and long time NHL’er, Tim Hunter knew he had the makings of a player ready to take that next step in Langan.
“I think me and my linemates have just been getting better throughout the season,” said the modest Langan whose Warriors finished with a 40-20-6-2 record. “Coming into the season we all knew we were going to have to be good all season long and it has gone great.”
While plenty of praise can be directed towards Langan, it’s not surprising to hear him deflect some of the credit for his success this season to his linemates. It is after all what makes him the ultimate team player.
And, he’s had some pretty good players to look up to his previous three seasons with the Warriors led by the likes of Brayden Point (now an NHL superstar with the Tampa Bay Lightning), Brett Howden (New York Rangers), Dryden Hunt (Florida Panthers) and Jayden Halbgewachs (now with the AHLs San Jose Barracuda, the top affiliate for the San Jose Sharks).
“I think the biggest thing I learned from those guys is just how hard they work,” said the 6’, 205 lb. Langan. “Point was one of the hardest working guys I’ve watched, night in and night out - all he did was compete. Hobbs (Halbgewachs) was a great friend here too and he let me know a lot about the league and what it takes to succeed at this level.”
Langan is also quick to credit the coaching staff he’s had in Moose Jaw as a big reason for growing from that fourth line winger into one of the WHLs top players in what can be considered three-and-a-half short years.
“The coaches here in Moose Jaw have really helped me just believe in myself and showed trust in me playing in a big role,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that you can’t take a game off in this league.
“They’ve also been very supportive and have helped a lot with positive feedback, but also just giving me advice about my future which is a big help at this stage of my career.”
Getting to partake in somewhat of a tradition granted to a select number of Warriors this past February, Langan and a handful of fellow players got to experience a thrill of a lifetime with the world renowned Canadian Forces Snowbirds who, of course, are based out of Moose Jaw.
Langan hit the skies with a pilot and his fighter jet – an experience that Langan will remember for a long time.
“Flying with the snowbirds was an amazing experience,” he said, happily revealing that he kept his lunch in his stomach during the flight. “I was nervous and scared to go up at first but once up in the air it was super fun – probably one of the greatest experiences of my life as it’s pretty rare to get to experience that.”
Langan entered the 2018-19 season having scored a respectable 71 points in 174 WHL contests but this season saw his offensive production explode.
Finishing with 53 goals and 60 assists totalling an impressive 113 points in 67 games played, Langan finished one, heartbreaking point back of Portland Winterhawks sniper Joachim Blichfeld.
Blichfeld picked up an assist with one second remaining in his regular season to pull ahead of Langan.
For those who didn’t see the season Langan had coming, they just don’t know the dynamic player who’s been defying the odds his entire career.
“(Again), my linemates are a huge reason for the bump in numbers. Almeida (a Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick) and Tracey (a projected third round pick in this summer’s NHL draft) are two great players and we just feed off one another,” he said. “That is likely the biggest reason we’re all achieving personal success this season.”
The acolades didn’t end once the regular season did for Langan either after he was named to the WHL’s eastern conference first all-star team, a significant pat on the back after his break-out season.
Ironically enough, Langan’s Warriors are pitted against fellow Swan River product Riley McKay and the Saskatoon Blades in the opening round of the WHL playoffs. The Blades jumped out to a 2-0 series lead after a pair of wins this past weekend in Saskatoon.
With the series switching to Moose Jaw tonight and tomorrow (March 26 and 27), Langan knows it won’t be easy but they aren’t giving up just yet.
“We need to just take it one game at a time and play our game,” said Langan who, like McKay, tongue in cheek lists Chandler Ashcroft as his all-time favourite Stampeder. “I think we still have a good chance. We just need to put our energy into each shift we step on the ice and we’ll be okay.”
Once the season does come to a close, Langan knows he can look back at his five year junior career as a very successful one.
He’s overcome odds his entire career with scouts questioning his skating ability despite seemingly always getting to the puck first.
There’s one thing you can’t teach a hockey player and that’s a work ethic. You either have it or you don’t and Langan has proven from the first day he stepped on the ice that you might beat his team on occasion but you most certainly won’t outwork him in the game.
While he plans to continue playing next season, whether that be at the pro level or with a Canadian University program, Langan was quick to answer what he’ll miss most about the junior hockey lifestyle.
“No question, the friendships,” he concluded. “Hanging out with the guys and just making memories and sharing stories is something I’m going to miss.”

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Brian Gilroy
REPORTER
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