Photo via Target Photography
On the surface, tonight’s match-up between the Sherwood Park Crusaders and Grande Prairie Storm is just another AJHL regular season game, but for Crusaders forward Dylan Stewart, this marks his 200th career junior hockey game.
Stewart, now 20-years-old has bounced around the world of junior hockey quite a bit over the past four seasons, getting his start with the Prince Albert Raiders in 2014-15. He appeared in 68 games that year, scoring six times as a WHL rookie.
After 11 games with the Raiders to start the 2015 season, he was shipped two provinces over to the Kootenay Ice where he would play 63 games over parts of two seasons. About a quarter way through his second year with the team, his time in the WHL was over and he joined the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
Now in the AJHL, Stewart saw his offensive game grow putting up 19 points in the second half of the Pontiacs season. He also got his first crack at playoff hockey at the junior level, suiting up in nine games during last years run.
Over the off-season, Stewart was on the move again, this time to the Sherwood Park Crusaders. Stewart was now a veteran in the league and has enjoyed a successful start, averaging just under a point per game.
He hasn’t just made an impact on the ice either. Captain Brendan Kallis talked about Stewart’s impact in the room, “He likes to keep it light in the room whether it’s a joke or a movie quote but it’s always something funny with him” Kallis continued, “He’s also one of our leaders and guys look to him for advice or tips. He’s always an open book and looking to help. All around great guy in the room”.
I also had a chance to chat with Dylan before the game tonight and I asked him if tonight was just another night, or if it had some extra meaning to it?
“It means a lot actually, I had a goal to play junior hockey and I went out and got it,” Stewart said.
When asked if there was anyone he’d like to give special thanks to, Dylan didn’t hesitate, “My parents, for everything they’ve done for me. Without them, none of this would have been possible. I appreciate everything they’ve done for me”.
Stewart added that he’s looking to join either an ACAC or CIS team in the offseason and not only continue playing hockey but pursue an education. But that’s months away, for now, it’s all about enjoying the ride.
“It’s surreal that it’s winding down but I’m trying to enjoy the last year”.