Jets’ prospect Peter Stoykewych is a big defenseman who took on a big leadership role this year with the Colorado College Tigers. Just don’t ask the 6’3” Winnipegger if he needs a big spotlight.
“We have a team full of 25 leaders so it was pretty easy to step into a leadership role,” said Stoykewych. “It teaches you to look up to the older guys and learn from them, and I think when you try to do that people start following you as well.”
Stoykewych hit his stride in his sophomore year. The Atlanta Thrashers seventh round pick in 2010 turned heads with his puck-moving skills and speed, and asserted himself as an indispensable member of the team.
“Peter made strides in a number of areas this year,” noted Colorado College Assistant Coach, Eric Rud. “He emerged into our top defensive shut-down defender. He earned the coaching staff’s trust in all key situations. He became a leader as the season went along.”
While the Winnipeg native is known around campus for his perpetual smile, he’s also gained a reputation for selflessness. “Just in case he didn't toot his own horn enough and failed to mention it, Peter was elected by his teammates as an alternate captain for next season,” remarked Dave Moross, Director of Athletic Media Relations.
“He was also named to the all-tournament team at the WCHA Final Five in March (scored the game-winning goal in overtime against North Dakota) and received the annual Dave Peterson Award as our team's Most Improved Player in 2012-13,” added Moross.
The 20-year-old’s work ethic and dedication are reflected on the ice as well as in the classroom.
“Peter is a very intelligent mature kid with a great passion for the game of hockey,” asserted Rud. “He is very well-liked by his teammates and coaches. He has done an outstanding job in the classroom and being a role model on our campus. We like seeing Peter every day and are very glad he’s a part of our program.”
With all the accolades and awards heaped onto the newly minted assistant Captain, Stoykewych stays remarkably grounded. Besides focusing on his studies and the upcoming Player Development Camp, Stoykewych knows there’s one area of his game that still needs to take the next step.
“The biggest thing for me is my skating,” said Stoykewych. “Being a big guy, to be able to move and to move the puck down the ice with everyone else out there, that’s huge for me, and that’s something that I want to focus on this summer.”
Like most young players, Stoykewych’s hard work is driven by the chance to one day play in the NHL in front of his friends and family.
“Getting drafted by Atlanta was special enough in itself, but to be able to one day play in Winnipeg , it was obviously a huge deal for me,” reflected the Winnipegger. “Being from Winnipeg, I mean everybody dreams of one day playing in the NHL, but to have a chance to do it in front of your family and friends, that would be unbelievable. It’s just that much more incentive to work harder to make it.”
He’s not the only Stoykewych dreaming of playing in the NHL. His younger brother, Paul, is ranked 204th among North American skaters for the upcoming NHL Draft. But Peter has only one piece of advice for his sibling: “I just told him to go out there and have fun. I haven’t told him too much, I’m kind of letting him figure it out on his own,” he admitted.
“He’s a smart kid that knows what he’s doing. It’s nice to be a part of the draft process, but at the same time you can’t really think about it. You don’t have that much control over it except for what you do on the ice,” explained Stoykewych.
He’ll be cheering for his brother next month, and if all goes well, the pair could one day be facing off against each other on a much bigger stage.
“We’ve always had a rivalry going because we played on the same team and we’d always try and do better than each other,” laughed Stoykewych. “So we have a friendly, brotherly rivalry but at the same time we’re always pulling for each other as well.”