Updated Nov 16, 2012 - 11:15 am
Brendan Rouse is ready to go out a winner for T-Birds
Brendan Rouse does all the little things for the T-Birds (photo courtesy Seattle Thunderbirds)
By Andrew Eide
There has been a lot made of the youth of this year's Seattle Thunderbirds. They do have a lot of young players, especially on the back end, and that youth can lead to some inconsistency. On a roster like that you need your older players to step up and be leaders on and off the ice. Brendan Rouse is one of those guys for Seattle and he is having one of his best seasons in a T-Birds jersey.
Rouse was picked up by Seattle in 2009 from the Brandon Wheat Kings in exchange for goaltender Jacob DeSerres. Since the Rouse has been one of those guys who does all the 'little', mostly un-noticed things that are vital to a hockey team. He plays defense, kills penalties, block shots, plays the power play, and now is chipping in on offense.
The T-Birds are back home tonight to play the Medicine Hat tigers and have five straight home games after a long and frustrating road trip through the Eastern Conference. The team played some good hockey on that trip but did not get the breaks and only won 2 of the seven games they played. As one of the leaders, how does Rouse think the trip went?
"We felt like we played some of our best hockey," he said. "We had let downs for short periods of time, maybe only a period or a few minutes, and it seemed like the teams we were playing took advantage of those let downs and they changed the outcomes of the games for us."
If you watched the Thunderbirds closely this year you know that they while still a work in progress, they are better than the past couple of seasons. They are resilient, they battle hard and it seems that good things may be in the works.
"I think we have a lot more depth on our team," Rouse says about this year's squad. "In past years we maybe only had one or two lines that could score. This year we've put together a team where we can have four pretty even lines that can contribute offensively and a good defensive team. We've got a lot of young guys on the back end who are really helping us out and good goaltending."
As an older player who has been through the ropes Rouse is one of the leaders on the club. How does he see his role as a leader?
"This is my fourth year here so I've got to lead the way," Rouse says. "We haven't made the playoffs yet and its something I really want to strive for and I don't want those young guys falling into the same trap we have been in for not making the playoffs."
Rouse is also leading by example. He is off to his best offensive start with four goals and 15 points through 20 games so far this year, which is a pace that would break his career best of 29 points that he put up in 2010-2011. Part of that is experience but part of it is being put in good situations.
"I'm playing with confidence," he says. "Steve's given me an opportunity right from the get-go. I'm working well with my line mates and just being on the power play is a good opportunity to get points."
Rouse has been manning one of the points for Seattle's power play, something he had never done prior to last year. So far it's paying off and one of the reasons that Seattle has burst out with the WHL's best power play so far this year. It's clear that Steve Konowalchuk likes players who can easily adapt to any situation - something Rouse has done well this year.
"It's something I pride myself in," Rouse says. "I like killing penalties, helping the team out there and now Steve's got me playing the point on the power play. That was something that was a little out of my comfort zone at the start last year when I first moved there but I get more comfortable every time out there."
Now in his fourth year in the WHL Rouse has learned a lot along the way. He says that he understands how important playing with confidence is in being a successful player.
"You have to be confident out there," he says. "When your confident things seem to go your way and that's just something that I learned from the older guys when I was young and that's something I try to bring to my game."
Despite how well Rouse is playing he was not a lock to make the roster this summer. The league only allows WHL teams to carry three 20-year-olds and Rouse was one of five that were in training camp with Seattle. All five knew that they were not all going to be able to stay. How nerve-wracking was that?
"It was a nervous time for me," he said of camp. "All through the summer I knew I'd be fighting for a spot. I just knew I had to play my game and that it was kind of out of my hands. If Steve liked the style of game I brought to the team then I'd be happy here in Seattle, its where I wanted to be, but if Steve wasn't wanting to go with me I would have been fine with it and would have worked to help whatever team I was on."
While he is happy to stay in Seattle it is hard to see guys that were friends and teammates have to leave.
"Yeah, that's a tough part of the game," he says about guys like Brad Deagle and Chance Lund. "you don't want to see your friends go and it's tough to be fighting for a spot with guys you've been playing with, a lot of good guys like Deagle and Lund. They're good friends of mine and its sad to see them go."
In his three previous years in Seattle Rouse has yet to taste WHL playoff action. How big would it be for him to go out on a playoff team?
"That's the biggest thing and goal right now," he says. "I don't know what it's like and I would be real disappointed if I went through my WHL career without getting there. I just hope that we can get there and go far, I think we have the team to do it. I think we need to be more consistent and know that we're a good team. I think we can compete with all the teams, we need to stick to our game plan and play the full 60 and we'll go far."
Rouse, like most of his teammates is taking part of the Movember event to grow mustaches for men's health charities. While he says his is going OK he admits that there is another player who is in the clubhouse lead.
"(Jesse)Forsberg definitely has the best mustache going so far," he says with a laugh.
Follow Andrew on twitter @andyeide
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.