Looking back on his two seasons with the Sicamous Eagles, Nathan Plessis says they were a big step for him.
The Salmon Arm native, who plays in the National Collegiate Athletic Association with the Brown University Bears, says he missed most of his first year of midget hockey because of a broken arm. The following season as a 16-year-old he earned a roster spot with the Eagles during training camp. He had also attended some B.C. Hockey League camps, but joining the Eagles at the time seemed like a good fit. Part of that was being able to live at home.
“It was a good year. We were a competitive team,” says Plessis, who played for the Eagles from 2014-16 and is currently at home in Salmon Arm as his sophomore season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Coming out of midget to junior hockey, I think it kind of resembles that step up leaving junior to go to college. The guys are just bigger, stronger, faster. It was a big step for me, but I felt pretty good that year.”
His 17-year-old season was great as he developed and took a lot of steps from playing a lot and was a top-line player for the Eagles. The next spring when Junior A teams were recruiting, Plessis felt he was ready to take that next step and joined the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He captained them in his final season.
“I really liked my time in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. I think it was a good opportunity for me, especially for me to be able to be at home and play in Sicamous,” he says. “I got good coaching. I got to play with better players. The big difference from midget is you get to be on the ice every day and practise and you just get to be part of a team environment that you don’t really get coming up out of minor hockey.”
Plessis was also able to develop physically at his pace and the Eagles showed him a lot of support. Among his favourite memories were the bus trips and staying in hotels, as well as experiencing overtime for the first time.
“Whenever we won in overtime, that was pretty huge for me, I got pretty excited,” says Plessis. “I have tons of good memories with the guys on the bus and everything.”
The six-foot-four, 205 pound forward collected four points in 22 games with the Bears in his freshman season. Plessis says it was an adjustment after three seasons with the Bandits, where he put up 114 points in 147 regular season games.
There were times Plessis felt challenged as he had good nights and some tough nights. Playing in a hard league, he says it can be difficult to be consistent every night, but that is something he plans to work on.
“Overall, I was pretty happy. I was playing in most of the games,” he says. “I played a good role on the team. I was happy with myself, but definitely not satisfied. You are playing with up to 25-year-old men so it’s a challenge that way. The speed of the game, how hard teams compete. It’s different. You can’t be turning the puck over and just magically it comes back to you. You have to be super cautious if you are turning the puck over in bad spots. You are going to pay for it.”
When Plessis returns for his third season, he wants to take another step and be a bigger part of the Bears.
Until then, Plessis is focusing on studying economics and working out at home, getting ice time in Salmon Arm to be ready.