Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai River Brown Bears Tanner Schachle gets control of the puck and sprints down the rink Friday, October 24, 2014 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion Kenai River Brown Bears Tanner Schachle gets control of the puck and sprints down the rink Friday, October 24, 2014 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska.

Wasilla’s Schachle takes advantage of time with Brown Bears

  • By Jeremiah Bartz
  • Thursday, October 30, 2014 11:15pm
  • Sports

WASILLA — At this time last year, Tanner Schachle was getting ready for his junior year of high school hockey. But things are a little different for Schachle these days. In just a few months, Schachle went from high school standout to a junior hockey player with his name on the NHL Scouting List.

Skating in his first season for the Kenai River Brown Bears, the former Wasilla High standout has played in all 14 games for the Junior A team in the Tier II North American Hockey League, which plays today, Saturday and Sunday on the road against the Wenatchee (Washington) Wild. The 6-foot-1 wing is fresh off a career night. He bagged a goal and two assists during a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wilderness on Saturday, and now has a pair of goals and two assists on the year.

“It’s definitely a different game, faster, more hitting, bigger guys,” Schachle said recently. “But I like it a lot.”

Schachle skipped his senior season of high school hockey in favor of playing for a Kenai club that netted him in the second round of the 2014 NAHL draft. After Kenai chose Schachle with the 37th pick, the Wasilla product wasn’t sure what to expect. He did know that he definitely wanted to play for the Brown Bears.

“I wanted to be a regular in the lineup. I didn’t want to be sitting in the stands or sitting on the bench,” Schachle said.

Putting in the extra work has been key, he said.

“Obviously I’m not the biggest,” Schachle said. “I’m trying to get bigger, work harder. You’ve got to go as hard as you can.”

Skating from high school to the junior levels has been a transition, Schachle said.

“After the first couple of games, you get the handle of it,” Schachle said. “Everything starts to flow easier.”

Schachle scored his first career junior hockey goal during a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Magicians on Sept. 27. It was a game-winning tally coming at the 4:19 mark of the second period.

There has been a learning curve, but Kenai River head coach Geoff Beauparlant lauded the work ethic and potential he’s seen in the 17-year-old Schachle.

“He has really started to mature into his role on this hockey club,” Beauparlant said recently. “He’s obviously a very talented young guy.”

Beauparlant said Schachle is handling the transition from high school to juniors well, skating through the peaks and the valleys of hockey at a higher level.

“It’s ups and downs. There’s been days he struggles and works through it. There’s days where he’s been the best player on the ice,” Beauparlant said. “It’s typical of any younger guy adjusting to the pace and physicality of junior hockey. He’s done well with it.”

Beauparlant said Schachle is also an intelligent player.

“He works very smart on the ice. He has a high hockey IQ,” Beauparlant said. “He’s not afraid to go in the tough area. For a young guy, I really like that.”

Schachle is also putting in the work off the ice, Beauparlant said.

“He works hard in the weight room. He takes the extra time away from the link. He’s one of the guys who says, ‘Hey, can I get a DVD and watch the whole game?’ He utilizes that tool.”

Beauparlant raved about Schachle’s potential.

“His ceiling is unlimited,” Beauparlant said.

That ceiling is part of what landed Schachle on the NHL Scouting Bureau’s “Prospects to Watch” list for players eligible for the 2015 NHL draft. Schachle is one of 10 NAHL players on the list, and the lone Kenai River skater. Players are ranked in three tiers. Schachle was given a “C” rating. According to Beauparlant, players with “C” ratings are projected to potentially be selected anywhere from the fourth through seventh rounds in the NHL draft.

“It’s a big honor, but it’s just a preliminary thing,” Beauparlant said of being included on the list. “Just to be projected is a humbling honor for him. I do know he’s a player that wants to make this a career. No doubt in my mind, he has the potential to do that if he continues down the right path.”

Schachle said one of his teammates told him he was on the list, which was released in late September.

“I was pretty surprised,” Schachle said. “It’s just a list, but it’s cool to be on there.”

Schachle said he was seen by scouts at a USA Hockey Summer Development Camp in Buffalo, New York, earlier this year, and at the NAHL Showcase in Minnesota earlier this season. Schachle said he’s trying not to base too much on being named to the list. He said it’s an honor, and his dream is to be drafted and play professional hockey. But at this point, he wants to continue to work.

“It’s pretty cool. It’s a goal of mine to be drafted. I just want to work hard toward that, keep going, make the dream a reality,” Schachle said.

 

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at sports@frontiersman.com.

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