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Regina Pats centre Adam Brooks has took his game to the next level this season. He’s asserted himself as one of the top forwards in the Western Hockey League following breaking out into a premier scorer last year. Look no further than his stats sheet for proof of that, as he sits second in WHL scoring with 27 goals and 81 points in 52 games.
Brooks, 19, credits Regina’s coaching staff for his offensive success. He feels he received a great opportunity to thrive in the Queen City when John Paddock and company took over last season.
“I think the biggest thing is our coaching staff,” says Brooks. “With John (Paddock), Dave (Struch), Brad (Herauf) and Darrin (Mckechnie) last year, they give players opportunities that they didn’t think they would get. They’ve given me opportunities and have instilled confidence in me. They’ve also done a great job with feedback and are great at developing players.”
The Winnipeg, MB., native believes it took time for him to adjust to the major junior level in his first two seasons in the WHL. He does, however, feel he didn’t have a strong opportunity in his 17-year-old season with the Pats.
“I think as a 16 year old, it was an adjustment period for me,” says Brooks, who notched 23 points in his first two seasons in the Dub. “We had a lot of older players like Morgan Klimchuk, Chandler Stephenson and Dyson Stevenson. But the next year when I was 17, I think it was still an adjustment, but the opportunity wasn’t really there.”
Brooks started to truly his stride this season in December. He found the back of the net eight times and added 17 helpers in 13 games while only being held off the score sheet once that month.
“I started the year a little slow, but in December there I was back in the grove and got going,” he says. “I think I hit my stride because it was about the middle of the year and I got a little break there around Christmas and it gave me time to refocus and come back and end the month strong.”
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Brooks feels he entered his fourth season with some extra motivation following getting passed over in the 2015 NHL draft. He was in the running to don a jersey in Florida, but wasn’t devastated when he didn’t hear his name called.
“Getting passed over motivated me to come back this year and have a big year,” says Brooks, who was ranked 107th overall among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting Service’s 2016 mid-term ranking. “Being passed over at 17 and then again at 18, it's never fun. I heard there was a chance I'd get drafted at 18 because I had a good year, but it didn't happen. It’s every kid’s dream to play in the NHL, but it wasn’t too hard to take because I knew it’s harder for 18 year olds to get drafted.”
On top of the draft snub, Brooks’ close friend – Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Ryley Lindgren – pushed him to prepare for this year with a strong offseason workout.
“Every offseason I work pretty hard and take it seriously,” he says. “This last offseason I worked out with my good friend Ryley Lindgren. We pushed each other pretty hard and put in a lot of work. He’s had a breakout year this year, too, so it has paid off for both of us.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen