REGINA — When Layton Feist was first put on defence growing up, the current Regina Pat was not too thrilled about playing on the blue line.
The Dawson Creek, B.C. product played mostly forward in his early days of hockey. It was in his peewee seasons he started being used more on the backend.
“When I first changed over to D, I didn’t like it all,” Feist said. “I just wanted to go and score goals. Then I got used to it and I enjoyed it. I could still play defence and get in my offence as well.”
The 5-foot-10, 171-pounder has been an important piece of the Pats’ blueline this Western Hockey League season. Through 50 games, Feist had recorded 16 points. Now 19, Feist has come to enjoy various aspects of his position.
“It is fun to be at the point and making some moves and jumping up into the play. … It is fun shutting a team down.”
Feist said his time playing forward when he was younger has helped him offensively and skill-wise as a defenceman. An offensive defenceman, Feist has four goals and 12 assists this season. He has enjoyed playing with the Pats’ talented forward group.
“We got some good skill up front obviously with Connor [Bedard, leads the WHL with 48 goals and 96 points], Howie [Tanner Howe, 61 points], Valis [Borya Valis, 42 points] and a bunch of other guys,” Feist said. “It’s pretty fun to see what they can do and what they do when you move them the puck.”
He said the past couple of seasons he has worked on the defensive part of his game. Feist has played regularly on the penalty kill this season.
“I do enjoy the PK – shutting a team down and blocking shots.”
Feist is now in his third season with the team. He played three games an affiliated player in 2019-2020 before suiting up for 21 contests in the Regina “bubble” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Feist had 28 points in 64 games last season.
Over the years he said, “My confidence has gone up quite a bit. Confidence and just not being so nervous and stiff. Just more smooth and getting used to everything – the coaches, the team, and just being in this league.”
Feist developed his game in his hometown of Dawson Creek but before moving away when he was 14. He played in Vernon and Kelowna. During the Pats’ B.C. swing earlier this season, Feist’s family were among the many fans packing the rinks to see the Pats.
“It was lots of fun,” he said. “It was fun playing in front of family and winning five of six games was lots of fun. … I think every game was sold out. I could hardly get my parents and family tickets.”
After the year turned to 2023, the Pats drew large crowds for an Alberta road trip. After having trips limited the past couple seasons due to the pandemic, Feist is pleased to be able to go on longer road trips. He enjoys playing cards, the bus rides and staying in hotels with the team.
“It is good to play in new areas and in front of new crowds,” he said. “When we go to new places, it’s pretty packed. It is good to get a new atmosphere once in a while and see new places and new teams.”
Another aspect of this season that Feist has appreciated is the team’s success. As of Feb. 15, the Pats were 25-22-2-1.
“Winning a lot more helps with the team’s happiness … That’s what I’m enjoying about this year – winning.”