Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Playing with and against some of the fastest hockey players ever to grace an ice rink has given Cameron Reagan a leg up to develop that aspect of his own game.
In fact, he went against the most recent winner of the fastest skater title at the NHL all-star game – Matthew Barzal – when he played junior with the Kamloops Blazers and the latter was with rival Seattle. Included in Reagan's 124 games of Western Hockey League experience were also nights against current Edmonton Oilers Leon Draisaitl and Ethan Bear.
He truly trained his speed game, though, by skating alongside good friend Brendan Guhle of the Anaheim Ducks in the summer.
"He might be one of the fastest players I've played with, for sure," said the MacEwan Griffins blueliner. "So, just seeing that in a defenceman and how quick you need to be (is inspiring).
"I've definitely seen him work hard at his craft and what he's good at. That's definitely something I strive (toward) and look up to."
Reagan is certainly demonstrating his own talent this season for the Griffins as he's in the middle of a stellar breakout campaign with five goals and 19 points in 22 games.
"I think just trust in my abilities, becoming more confident (is huge)," he said. "It's my second year in the league now, so I'm adapting to the playing style and everything that's around me."
With that is the sense of knowing when to rush the puck up the ice and when to distribute and hang back defensively.
"Sean and Mike (Ringrose) always preach playing with speed, so just using my speed in certain situations – definitely not all the time – but I think I'm pretty good at reading when to go and when not to jump in the rush," he said. "It's what we try to do at MacEwan is play with pace. We're a smaller team, so just utilizing our speed and quickness in transition is big for us."
Head coach Michael Ringrose, who will be back behind the bench this weekend for the first time this season after returning from a parental leave, feels Reagan is finally being rewarded on the scoresheet for his strong style of play that also existed in his rookie season in 2018-19.
"Lots of confidence; he's a very good skater," said Ringrose of what's driving his success. "I thought he was pretty unfortunate last year by our counts and our statistics. He was involved in generating a lot of opportunities offensively and a was maybe a bit unlucky not to get the points you're seeing this year.
"He's been a dynamic two-way defenceman since Day 1. I'm happy to see he's getting the offensive success that he is right now."
Reagan's offensive production is fifth among all ACAC defenceman, trailing co-leaders Kevin Massy of SAIT and Tyler Podgorenko of Red Deer College, who have 22 points apiece.
"He's proven that he can play at a very high level," said Ringrose of Reagan, who also spent a season with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, playing with Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Noah Cates. "It's nice now that he's got a year and a half under his belt, you see him playing with a ton of confidence and really driving the offensive side of things from the back end.
"He's a good defender, a good skater and he's good offensively. In my mind, he's a pretty complete package."
The Griffins are coming into the weekend off a bye week, which wasn't enough time to scrub the bad taste of their last outing – a pair of losses at Briercrest College, albeit one in overtime – that dropped them out of the driver's seat for second place in the ACAC standings.
As a result, SAIT trails them by only three points for third place, meaning you don't need to be a math major to know this is an important weekend for MacEwan, who also only trail RDC (15-5-2-0) by one point for second and the first-round playoff bye that comes with it.
"Obviously, we're motivated to get back into the win column after not getting the results we maybe deserved a couple of weeks ago, but as a group, we're happy where we're at and we think we're tracking to where we want to be at the end of the year," said Ringrose. "That's exciting for us. It's just about continuing to do the work every day – continuing to work at our game to make sure we're ready for when the hockey matters most."