While the first year Victoria Royals have struggled this season, there have still been plenty of bright spots, not the least of which is talented centre Steven Hodges.
The Delta, BC native has been a model of consistency, on a young team that is still trying to find their way, and was recently named their Player of the Month for February. So far this season, Hodges has potted 20 goals and 23 assists for 43 points in 67 games, putting him sixth overall on the club in scoring.
Last season, the five-foot-11, 170-pound pivot had five goals and 11 points in 58 games as a rookie, for the then Chilliwack Bruins. He also was a big part of Team Pacific’s bronze medal performance at the 2011 World U17 Hockey Challenge, putting up four points, on a goal and three assists in five games.
While Hodges may not always jump right out, he plays a very solid 200-foot game, and usually ends up on the score sheet. He has good wheels, nice hands and is dangerous around the net. He also adds very good hockey IQ, a high compete level and can dish the puck extremely well while not being afraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice. The dynamic centre has some real offensive upside, that is starting to blossom. He is capable of scoring highlight reel goals, as well as the greasy ones, does whatever it takes to win and is the type of versatile player a coach appreciates having.
Not only that, but Hodges simply has all the makings of a future captain one day. The 17-year-old should be a highly sought after commodity come draft time.
I had the chance to catch up with the talented Steven Hodges, for a quick Q and A.
Who has been your biggest influence and help in developing your game thus far?
Steven: My biggest influence is my parents and family always pushing me to be my best. My brothers, and parents have always supported me in pursuing my hockey endeavours.
Is there an NHLer you model your game after?
Steven: I like the way Chicago Blackhawks forward, Dave Bolland plays. His style and skating ability is very impressive in my opinion, and he is a very good depth player which I wanna become.
What was your ‘welcome moment’ to the WHL?
Steven: Being called up for my first WHL game as a 15-year-old, and recording my first point in my first game.
You’ve scored a bunch of goals over your young career in minor hockey, and with the Bruins/Royals, do you have one that stands out as your biggest?
Steven: My biggest goal was scoring the first ever franchise goal for the Victoria Royals against the Vancouver Giants.
It’s been a learning year for the Royals franchise, how do you like the make up of this team moving forward, and what do you guys need to improve on for next season?
Steven: Our team was very young this year and very inexperienced, which will change next year, and can only benefit our franchise for the better. Once you get a year under your belt lots can change. Everybody matures and improves, and everyone is more comfortable. It will make a huge impact for us as long as we learn to play a full 60 minute game every game.
With this being your draft year, have you felt any added pressure to perform at all?
Steven: Obviously there is added pressure considering it’s my draft year, but that doesn’t change my main focus of helping my team be as successful as possible. I’m a strong believer in team success will lead to individual success.
I know being drafted is a huge honor, but if you could pick the NHL team that chooses you, who would it be?
Steven: Being drafted by any team would be an honor. Growing up my dad’s favourite team was the Toronto Maple Leafs, so I’m sure he’d be happy with that (ha/ha).
In your opinion, who is the toughest defenseman to beat 1-on-1 in the WHL?
Steven: The Kelowna Rockets Myles Bell.
Best player you’ve played with and against?
Steven: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the best player I’ve played against, and Roman Horak is the best player I’ve played with.