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Tye Spencer fulfills childhood dream playing for Regina Pats

Tye Spencer of Saskatoon dreamed of making it to the WHL and watched every Saskatoon Blades game he could. Now, he's achieved his dream, playing for his hometown's rival, the Regina Pats.
Tye Spencer of the Regina Pats uses his hockey IQ to find those spots where he can outmaneuver the opposition and score.

REGINA — The Regina Pats’ Tye Spencer did not let his stature get in the way of achieving his dream of playing in the Western Hockey League.

The 5-foot-7, 138-pound Saskatoon product grew up watching his hometown Blades. Although Spencer acknowledged he has faced some challenges over the years due to his size, the 18-year-old forward has been a contributor for the Pats this season.

“It is not ideal being a smaller player,” Spencer said. “I’ve kind of accepted the fact and got used to it. So, stylizing my game to how big I am is something I’ve had to – and have to – adjust to. Being a smaller guy out there, it is a little hard on the physical area. As long as I’m quicker, have the agility to skate around guys, making sure I have a good, quick shot … It doesn’t matter how big you are, it’s all about what’s in your mind.”

Spencer’s hockey IQ helped him to earn a role on the Pats. Before an injury that has kept him out of action since Dec. 10, he had earned increased ice time in his first full season with the team after joining partway through 2021-2022 from Kamloops. Spencer was seeing power play and penalty kill time for the Regina squad.

His season started off strong as he lit the lamp twice in the Pats’ season-opening tilt against Moose Jaw. His seven goals so far already tied what he registered in his time split between the Regina and Kamloops last season. Spencer has 10 points in 26 games. What has allowed him to produce?

“I think just finding those soft spots,” he said. “Getting to those areas where I can get away from players and not necessarily stick into the group. Making sure I have the puck on my stick and when I’m open, making sure I’m calling for it. Other than that, just making sure I keep to my game and keep going.”

While Spencer has had some personal success this season, he is looking to do whatever he can to help the Pats succeed.

“At the end of the day, I’m playing for the logo, not for the name on the back,” he said.

As of Tuesday, the Pats were 21-19-1-1. The team has had some strong stretches, such as when they went 4-1 on the road in B.C.

“We got to take every game the same – no matter if we are on a winning streak or a losing streak,” Spencer said. “I think staying ready and making sure we’re prepared for every game is going to help us keep going.”

Spencer grew up going to every Blades game he could. He said it was his dream to make it to the WHL. Now that Spencer’s dream has been achieved, what is it like to compete in Saskatoon as a member of the opposition?

“It’s the coolest thing ever,” he said. “Even to this day, when we go to the SaskTel Centre whenever we’re getting off the bus, it’s like ‘Wow, I’m one of those guys now.’ It’s pretty cool.”

In the 2019-2020 season, Spencer suited up for the U18 AAA Saskatoon Contacts. He played three games as an affiliated player for the Kamloops Blazers, who chose him in the third round of the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. The next campaign saw seasons shortened by COVID-19. Spencer played six games for the Contacts and 16 for the Blazers. He said those experiences playing for the Blazers were big.

“It was a huge advantage,” Spencer said. “When you’re playing (U18), going up to the Dub – the big league … just getting a feel for how fast and quick it is. It is a lot faster, but it is a lot easier game I found. You can trust on your guys to be there. … Having that experience in those games kind of ups your pace overall.”

In 2021-2022, Spencer competed in 32 games for the Blazers – recording 11 points – before being swapped to Regina. He has appreciated being close to home with his parents being able to see him play more often. He notes that in Kamloops there was “a great group of players and staff. It was awesome being there.” Spencer has certainly found his comfort level in his first full season in Regina.

“Not only is it just the city, but the players and coaches make it,” he said. “It’s one of a kind. … With the opportunity I’ve been getting and the connections I’ve been making with these players, it is really starting to feel like home here for me.”

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