Sebastian Streu’s hometown may be listed as Belmont, Manitoba but the new Kootenay Ice forward is still adjusting to North American hockey.
Streu, who is 17 years old, has spent the majority of his life in Germany where he has been excelling at a different brand of hockey — a less physical game on a smaller ice surface.
Using his dual citizenship, the young forward attended the Ice’s training camp without being considered an import player and was subsequently signed by the team after thoroughly impressing them.
— Kootenay ICE (@WHLKootenayICE) September 5, 2017
“He’s got real good speed, he’s a good skater [and he] moves the puck well,” head coach James Patrick said of Streu. “I think that there will be an adjustment for [him] but he is super excited about being here, he wants to play in this league, he wants to play in Kootenay [and] he wants to learn and grow here.”
By signing with Kootenay on Tuesday, Streu achieved the first step of a lifetime goal.
“[Ever] since I was little I’ve wanted to play in the WHL,” he said. It’s a great league where a lot of players get drafted into the NHL and make pro in Europe and have great careers. I’m really looking forward to this upcoming season.”
Although he admitted that it’s been a pretty dramatic change, Streu believes that he has what it takes to be an impact player for the Ice.
“It’s really different, it’s a lot more physical than European hockey but I knew that coming in so I prepared myself well,” Streu said. “I’m slowly getting used to the smaller ice and the [increase in] hits [and] I think I’ve gotten a little better and fit into this team pretty well.”
Patrick said that the strides he’s seen from the team’s newest addition, even in a short time frame, have been very impressive.
“I thought that he got better as camp went on,” the coach said. “[In] rookie camp I [noticed that it] was an adjustment for him but once the veterans got here, every day he got a little better.
“[It’s] a bit of a different style of a game, a little bit more North-South, a little more [about] going to the net and the traffic areas [but] he’s starting with a good skillset so it will be fun to see how he progresses.”
As for his decision to leave Europe, where he had played the 2016-17 season with the RB Hockey Akademie in Salzburg and put up 15 points in 26 games, it was an easy decision.
“I’m 17 now and I really want to show myself to the world,” Streu said. “I already played with Germany at the Under-18 World Championship and that was a great experience but this is just something different — [it’s] the big leagues.”
At the U-18 tournament, Streu had five points in five games. Ice General Manager and President Matt Cockell hopes he can have a big impact in Cranbrook.
“Sebastian has had a diverse background with respect to his development internationally and we expect him to push hard for a meaningful role on our team,” Cockell said in a team release.
Streu will get his first action with the Ice in their three-game preseason tournament in Kennewick, Washington this week. Despite being the newest official member of the team, he is already buying into their mantra.
“We just have to compete for ice,” Streu said of their game plan. “We have to work hard [and] work as a team. We can’t have any individuals. If we win, we win as a team [and] if we lose, we lose as a team.”
Streu joins import draft selections Gilian Kohler, from Switzerland, and Martin Bodak, from Slovakia, as one of three Ice players who spent last season playing in Europe before making the jump to Canadian junior hockey for 2017-18.