By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
Just three regular season games remain for the Strathmore Wheatland Kings captain Keenan Ogle and the realization of the end is beginning to sink in.
“I started thinking about it a lot more after we came back from the Christmas break,” said Ogle. “As the season has went on it has been something I have thought about more and more. You try and treat the games the same, but you want to appreciate being in the dressing room with the guys a little more each time.”
It’s been quite the ride for Ogle, who came to the Kings as an 18-year-old alongside Jeremy Blumes, who took over as head coach for one season.
Ogle played for Blumes with the Calgary Royals Athletic Association in the South Central Alberta Hockey League and ended up capturing the provincial title for the 2013-14 season.
“That success we made in my last year of midget double-A allowed me to come in with a little more swagger and I ended up having a pretty solid year,” said Ogle.
As a rookie, Ogle notched eight goals and 14 points in 37 games.
A memorable season for the Calgary product, Ogle was a key contributor in one of the greatest playoff battles the franchise has ever been a part of, when they took on the Coaldale Copperheads in the second round.
“The back–and-forth nature of that series was something I’ll always remember,” said Ogle. “You couldn’t take one shift off in that series, or the other team made you pay. It felt like every time we scored, they would answer, or the other way around. It was a great series to be a part of.”
Call it the sophomore slump or snake bitten, but Ogle failed to put a puck in the net during his second season, as he finished with only six assists in 32 games.
His less-than-anticipated production didn’t discourage the new coaching staff that entered at the start of the 2016-17 season from naming him captain. They went with someone who had the pulse of the room and was a hard worker. In the coaches’ opinion, the choice was easy.
“When I first met him at camp, he had the body language of a good captain and he was very polite and professional. After we sat him down and talked to a few guys, we found out that he had everyone’s respect,” said Kings Head Coach Shadoe Stoodley. “He has been a great leader on and off the ice.”
In games, Ogle has been utilized in every situation. He knows now to get pucks in deep and isn’t scared of driving hard to the net with hopes of getting rewarded. He brings grit to the lineup and hopes others follow in his footsteps.
He also doesn’t blink when he gets tapped to go kill off a big penalty. Ogle takes pride in doing the small things to help his team out, like winning puck battles along the boards. He has even been known to chuck a couple knuckles to try to keep players on the other side in line.
“I was pretty surprised to be given the C on my chest,” said Ogle. “There were a lot of guys in the room that had experience with Shadoe who had the chance to be great leaders, too.”
This year, things haven’t gone to plan at times and the Kings have struggled, putting extra pressure and straining Ogle at times. But throughout it all, he has been determined to find an answer for the team’s problems.
“After our last shootout loss, Keenan came into the coaches’ room and asked for a copy of the game tape so he could go home and watch it, to try and pick up any areas of improvement for our team,” said Stoodley. “He always wants to get better and make his teammates better.”
With a daunting three games remaining following a deeply needed road win, Ogle is hoping he can draw off some previous playoff experience to make his career with the Kings last just a little bit longer.