Dea at home with Oil Kings

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Third season between the pipes with Edmonton Oil Kings in Western Hockey League

Patrick Dea’s home away from home is stopping pucks for the Edmonton Oil Kings.

“You can sort of block out all of the distractions and just go out there and have fun,” said the St. Albert netminder.

The state of the art Rogers Place is the home rink with a big league feel for the Western Hockey League team.

“It’s an unbelievable facility. We’re getting to sort of experience what it’s like to be almost like a professional. In Edmonton we’re treated very well and we get everything we need. It’s just all part of trying to be like a pro and trying to act like a pro,” Dea said.

The learning curve for the former bantam AAA Sabre, midget 15 Flyer and midget AAA Raider started with the 2014/15 Oil Kings.

“My first year backing up Tristan Jarry was actually a very big bonus for me. I got to learn from one of the best to ever play in the WHL. When I watched him I learned a lot of different things, not only on the ice stuff but off-ice stuff,” said the first-round (22nd overall) pick by the Oil Kings in the 2012 WHL bantam draft.

“The next year I played with another veteran guy in Payton Lee. I think he played his 10,000th minute this year so he’s been in the league for a long time. He sort of knows how to handle the schedule with all the bus trips and that kind of stuff so I think from that standpoint it helped me learn how to be a pro off the ice and on the ice.”

At the Christmas break, Dea’s career record with the Oil Kings is 43-35-5-3, with a 2.98 GAA, .897 save percentage and two shutouts in 95 games and 5,250 minutes played.

“Over the past three seasons I’m a little bit more patient on my feet and finding sight lines through traffic,” said the five-foot-11 net defender. “As you get more comfortable in the league I think you start to see pucks a lot easier as a goalie and when you’re seeing pucks you can stop them so the big thing with me was working on my traffic play and then being a smaller guy protecting that part of the net and myself.

“The one thing that you always hear about junior goalies is they’re really active in net and by that I mean making extra movements that you don’t have to make and I think that’s what I learned really early working with Dustin Schwartz, the Oilers’ goalie coach now, and working with Jarry that first year was seeing how compact and sort of tight he was in net where he wasn’t making any extra movements, almost being in position but not put himself out of position anytime. I don’t think I’ve mastered that yet but I’m still working on and definitely improving on seeing and being more patient and sort of letting the puck hit me rather than attack the puck as a goalie.”

The ability to stay locked in on every shot in every minute of every game is another aspect Dea is mastering.

“The one thing I learned earlier in my career and I’m still learning now is that any team can win in the league, so as a goalie if you go into any game thinking ‘we have a chance to beat these guys pretty handily’ anything can happen in a game, so you’ve got to always have to be prepared and be sharp and be ready to go,” said the St. Albert Catholic High School graduate. “Obviously there are a lot of really good shooters in the league. There are guys who are going to go on to play in the NHL in that league. You can sort of tell when those kind of guys are coming down on you and you really have to be sharp.”

Dea, 19, also ramped up his fitness level after his rookie WHL season by dropping a whopping 28 pounds while tipping the scales at 157 at the start of the 2015 training camp.

“Talking to the team after that season I knew that there was a chance I could play a quite lot of hockey the next year so I just sort of took it upon myself to get into better shape and my family helped me quite a bit. I got a nutritionist and I changed my training aspect a little bit. I wanted to be ready to go so if my name was called I’m always ready and I’m not feeling tired going into games and stuff like that,” said Dea, who saw action in 46 games last season while going 18-19-3-1 with a 3.01 GAA, .895 save percentage and one shutout in 2,471 minutes.

“You hear Marty Brodeur say when he played he always wanted to play every game and that’s the same thing for a lot of goalies, myself included, so any time we can be physically prepped and mentally prepped that helps us out.”

This season Dea is carrying the load for the Oil Kings (16-15-3-1) and is 14-11-1-1 while sporting a 3.20 GAA and .894 save percentage in 27 games and 1,630 minutes. He also posted a 27-save shutout in last month’s 3-0 win over the Kootenay Ice.

“I’m getting to play lots so it’s easy to get into a rhythm and when you get into a rhythm you can just start feeling better every night and every night you go out there you just try and help the team win,” said the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending Nov. 13.

“As a group we all sort of had higher expectations that everyone had for us coming in this year just being so young. We’re starting to get on a bit of a roll here where the younger guys are really helping our team produce and our veteran guys are always there when we need them and they’re producing points.”

One of the many career highlights for the recipient of the top goaltender award in the 2012 Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League’s north conference, 2013 Alberta Minor Midget AAA Hockey League with teammate Tyler Boe and 2014 Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League was starting the first hockey game in Rogers Place. The Oil Kings won 4-3 in a shootout against the Red Deer Rebels as Dea stopped 24 shots in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,102 on Sept. 24

“That was an unbelievable experience,” said the Alberta minor midget AAA MVP in 2013. “There was a big (90 minute) delay at the beginning. One of the (hydraulic lift) machines got stuck on the ice so we came out for warm-up around 8:30 p.m. and the arena was packed, which is something I’ve never experienced before, warming up in front of like 18,000 fans.

“It was a really fun experience and to get the win to sort of christen the new barn was pretty cool.”

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Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.