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Former Arizona youth hockey standout Shtrom grateful for rookie season in WHL


Oren Shtrom grew up in a hockey family and took after his father, Leeor, in playing the game at a high level.

A 2004 birth year born in Montreal who grew up in Gilbert playing for the Arizona Bobcats and Jr. Coyotes, Shtrom skated the 2020-21 season with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers.

The WHL played an abbreviated 24-game season with no playoffs, and Shtrom compiled five goals and 14 points in 22 games for the Tigers.

“It was a great season for us, and I thought we had a lot of team success as well as personal success,” said Shtrom, a forward. “Obviously not the season we would have rather had but with everything going on, we were just grateful to get any amount of games.”

Over the course of the season, Shtrom said he improved most on his work ethic defensive zone play and speed.

“I felt like I had a good opportunity to get some of the best coaching and growth as well as being able to focus purely on the game and honing my craft,” said Shtrom. “It was a good year. I learned how to play against bigger guys and learned how to find different ways to score.”

In growing up a hockey player, Shtrom said he was “hooked ever since I was a little kid.”

“Just watching TSN every morning and just skating all the time, I think I just fell in love with the game,” said Shtrom. “I think two coaches in Arizona that really stood out to me would be Ron Filion and Ray Whitney. Growing up in a hockey family, hockey was pretty much everything. I don’t think there was ever a time I was doing something that wasn’t revolving around hockey. My father played a huge role, he got me into it, and taught me so many things growing up that not every player gets the opportunity to learn.”

One of just a few players from Arizona in the WHL, Shtrom said he hopes more will look at Major Junior hockey as an option coming out of youth hockey.

“I think it means a lot to myself and younger kids,” said Shtrom. “Not many people get lots of recognition coming out of Arizona, so I think it’s just nice for young kids to see another guy to come out of there. I looked up to a lot of different guys growing up, but one guy that stands out to me is Patrick Kane. He’s just so electrifying every time he touches the ice. It’s hard not to get drawn into him as a player.

“Don’t worry about being in a small market and not getting seen as much. The scouts will always find good players.”

Moving forward, Shtrom is eyeing a productive summer to prepare for the 2021-22 WHL campaign.

“Obviously, I think everyone’s goal is to win a championship, so next year the goal would be to win a championship and be a key contributor,” said Shtrom. “My long-term goals in the game are to make the NHL, win a Stanley Cup, and be able to represent my country.”

Photo/Medicine Hat Tigers/RJF Productions

— Matt Mackinder

(May 20, 2021)

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