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Valis of Regina Pats' 'Kid Line' returns with a year's experience

Borya Valis is returning to the Regina Pats for a second season.
Borya Valis Regina Pats
Borya Valis is looking to contribute even more to the Regina Pats in his second Western Hockey League campaign.

REGINA — After a successful rookie season, Borya Valis is looking to contribute even more to the Regina Pats in his second Western Hockey League campaign.

Through the Pats’ first two games this season, the 18-year-old forward from Denver had scored two goals and tallied three points. In 57 games as a rookie last season, Valis recorded 25 points, including 11 goals. When asked about his comfort level on the ice this season compared to the last campaign, he said:

“A lot more comfortable, I think, after the year last year. I think I’ve found my game. I was just getting used to the pace and I think it’s been a lot better and a lot easier for me.”

Before heading north to play the Pats, Valis developed his game in his home state with the Colorado Thunderbirds program at the U13-U16 AAA levels. The biggest adjustments going from AAA to the WHL?

“I think the biggest part was the speed. I think speed and just the parts of the game you had to study,” Valis said. “I don’t think we played really structured hockey up to U16 … I think it was more individual kind of stuff. Now this league is more pro. You have to adjust to the structure of the game.”

He is putting the lessons he has learned to work on the Pats’ top line. Valis skates on the right side of a line centered by Connor Bedard that features Tanner Howe on the left. Bedard is expected to be a top pick – many are predicting first overall – in the 2023 NHL Draft, while Howe is a prized prospect for the 2024 NHL Draft. When asked about what he enjoys about his linemates, Valis said:

“Playing with the best player in the world, it’s explaining itself I think. … He’s so great. Just going out on the ice with him, it is incredible.

“Tanner Howe – he is also an unbelievable player. One of the best for his draft year.”

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Valis said he brings size and playmaking to the line. He noted each player contributes to the line’s success.

“All of us can finish. All of us can put the puck in the net. All of us can make plays,” Valis said.

Called the “Kid Line” by some last season, all three players are still 18 or younger. Now a year older, they have gained more experience in the league and playing together.

“I think we have a great line. We’re a young line,” Valis said. “Leading up from last year, I think we’ve gotten better. I think it will be fun.”

Born in Los Angeles, Valis came to hockey in a unique way. He walked on his tiptoes when he was young, and a doctor suggested getting him into skates.

“Walking on my tippy-toes just went away and I just fell in love with the sport right as I put the skates on and the first time I went on the ice,” said Valis, who said his family moved to Denver when he was around age six or seven.

While Regina winters are definitely different from LA or Denver, Valis has found he enjoys the lighter traffic of the Queen City and the Pats’ fans.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “Everyone is so nice here.”

Valis said he is excited about everything for his second season in Regina, including “Playing a normal season this year. Because of COVID we haven’t had a normal season in the past couple of years. I think that’s just the biggest part. Being with the team and winning games.”

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