By Craig Stein
Top line centre up for grabs in university/college ranks
(Picture courtesy: Marla Possberg)
Humboldt’s Logan Schatz was a top three pre-season favourite to win an SJHL scoring title as a 19-year-old a year ago, and he was well on his way to being in that conversation with seven points through his first three games, when a freak elbow injury saw him out of the lineup until Christmas.
Missing the bulk of his 19-year-old season has Schatz as maybe the league’s best-kept secret in scouting circles, but he’s been a point-per-game SJHL player almost from day one when he broke into the league as an under-ager.
“Last year was a little bit tough because I had that great start, and by time I came back, everyone’s in full swing and I was almost starting my season all over again,” said Schatz, who will finish top three in SJHL scoring this year.
The Allan, SK product joined the Broncos for a late-season game as a 16-year-old way back in 2013-14, and all he did there was put up three assists and become a regular in the lineup when the Broncos made it to the league Semi-Final against Yorkton.
He followed that up with 19-points in 41-games as a 17-year-old rookie, 56-points in 57-games at 18, and 28-points in 31-games a year ago despite missing most of the first half.
Now, wearing the ‘C’ for a second straight full campaign and part of a third, Schatz has led the way offensively as a 20-year-old, racking up 18-goals 68-points in 48 games. His point and assist (50) totals are good enough for 2nd in the SJHL, and he put any injury questions to rest, suiting up in every one of his team’s games so far this season.
“I’m mostly a playmaker, I like to carry the puck and feel more confident the more I have it and love to set up my linemates. I think my skating is the strongest part of my game, and my shot is underrated, (Bronco Coach/GM) Darcy (Haugan) has me shooting more this season and I’m finding the net more.”
When Schatz was in the lineup last season, him and Chris Van Os-Shaw were arguably the most dangerous duo across the league, and that was even the case in the back half of the season prior when the pair were both 18. Schatz has managed his totals this season even without his familiar left-winger, who was traded to Spruce Grove (AJHL) in the summer after a 36-goal campaign. Van Os-Shaw leads the AJHL in goals (43) and points (79) and is committed to Alaska-Anchorage. Schatz noted that’s one of a handful of Division I schools he’s had conversations with and the Seawolves would have instant chemistry if such a reunion were to happen.
Schatz’s current linemates aren’t slouches by any means, but he’s been forced to adapt to changes, and has excelled. None of the forwards he’s played with regularly this year were teammates of his when last season ended.
“I’ve had good chemistry with (Conner) Lukan, who we got for Chris (Van Os-Shaw), and Jaxon Joseph (acquired from Melfort mid-season), and lately as well with Nick Shumlanski (acquired from Flin Flon mid-season). When you play centre you’re always going to have to adapt. Guys get hurt or move on and things always change.”
Schatz is keeping his options open on both sides of the border, and noted that he had a Western Hockey League opportunity after his 16-year-old season, but him and his family decided on the Junior ‘A’ route to keep the NCAA avenue available as well.
“In a perfect world you’d love to have a scholarship off your plate at this time of year, but getting frustrated about it would only hurt the team. I’ve talked about it with my coaches a lot, I’m not going to let it get in the way of our team’s success. We’re having a great year and so am I and I’m confident the rest will take care of itself.”