Virden’s Landon Peel believes the near future looks bright for his University of Regina men’s hockey team.
“We have struggled for the three years I have been here,” the son of Brian and Joan Peel said. “I think for the most part the organization is taking steps forwards.”
Last season the Cougars added talented young players, including Zak Zborosky (who finished second on the team in goals and points), and more are coming. Peel said those players have him excited for his final two seasons of U Sports eligibility.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound defenceman is also an important reason why the next couple seasons should be successful ones for the U of R.
“He is still growing into the role,” Cougars head coach Todd Johnson said. “Our league is so good and so strong. Landon is getting stronger. … He has really come a long way.”
Last season Peel recorded a career-high three goas and finished with six points. This production came in spite of a torn hamstring in the preseason that limited to him to 20 games.
“It is frustrating. You’d like to be get back,” Peel said of injuries.
At the end of the season, Peel broke his thumb. However, Johnson said the couple games he played with the injury might have been his best of the 2017-2018 campaign.
“He moves the puck so well,” the head coach said. “His head is up. He has a great stick defensively.”
As well as on-ice production, the Cougars look to the veteran to be a leader.
“He is so competitive,” Johnson said. “He works so hard.”
The Cougars head coach praised Peel for his growth on and off the ice and his success in the classroom. Peel is studying business and plans on majoring in finance.
“I’m kind of a numbers guy. … It feels like real life,” Peel said. “I can use it in the future.”
The blue liner came to the Cougars after being out of the classroom for a few years while playing junior hockey. He said he had to make some adjustments.
“You have to work your schedule around your practice times,” Peel said.
Weekend games mean the team leaves Thursday afternoon and misses some late Thursday classes as well as their Friday studies. Peel has found that working to deadlines and trying to get ahead have helped him juggle academics and hockey.
“I’m enjoying the city and enjoying the school,” he said.
Peel’s junior career included a 16-year-old season split between the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats and the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s San Valley Stampeders. On the latter he was teammates with his older brother Jeff for the first time. He greatly enjoyed the experience and praised Jeff and his parents for their constant support of his hockey career.
Peel split his first two seasons between Swan Valley and Regina. As an 18-year-old, he spent time with the Stampeders and the WHL’s Kootenay Ice. The next season he recorded 20 points with the Ice. Peel capped his junior career by winning the 2015 MJHL title and Royal Bank Cup National Junior A Championship with the Portage Terriers.