Sasha Teleguine hasn’t had many goal droughts in his young hockey career, but it took him 14 games to to light the lamp this season.
The 18-year-old finally broke the ice in Monday night’s 5-3 win over Merritt at the Chilliwack Coliseum, scoring a goal-scorer’s goal off a pretty feed from linemate Connor Milburn. Milburn picked the pocket of Centennials forward Matteo Pecchia in the neutral zone, skated down the right side and feathered a pass through the last Merritt defender to Teleguine. He did the rest, rifling a shot under the crossbar to end a slump that felt like forever.
“I’ve been carrying that weight on my shoulders for 14 games and it felt good to finally get it off,” he said. “Obviously it’s frustrating when you’re in the middle of it. I was getting the chances, but when the goals aren’t going for you, you’ve got to find a way to be productive and effective in other ways.”
Even as he struggled to put a puck in the net, the Massachusetts product was a driver for the Chilliwack offence, collecting 10 assists through his first 13 games.
“I tried to focus on bearing down in the D zone and being more responsible, and eventually you know the offence will come,” Teleguine said. “It felt great to get that first goal, and I’ve got six more games to score some more.”
Teleguine potted 21 goals in 26 games for his Thayer Academy prep school team in 2019-20, and his recent struggles illustrate what a jump it can be from high school to the junior A level.
“It’s night and day,” he said. “There’s a lot of skill in that prep league, but here I find you’re held accountable for so much more. You can’t get away with a lot of dangles you could get away with in prep school. You can’t get away with just floating around, being in La-La land in the D zone. You’ve got to be responsible in all three areas of the ice.
“Here it’s a game of chess, with structure. Goals are scored when players make mistakes, and I’ve learned more about hockey playing here than I have the last 18 years of my life.”
Teleguine’s struggles to put the puck in the net haven’t deterred National Hockey League scouts, who are tracking him closely in the lead-up to July’s entry draft. Earlier this season, the teenager was assigned a ‘C’ grade by the Central Scouting Bureau, identifying him as a potential mid-round pick.
“I’m not one to be too concerned by outside influences like scouts and colleges,” Teleguine said. “I try to block everything out and focus on the task at hand. Obviously, every player wants to have that attention, but I try to keep my focus on winning the next game.
“I was pretty nervous about it when we were practicing and getting ready for the season, because I hadn’t played any competitive hockey games in over a year, but I found it to be easier to stay level-headed and stay focused on making the next pass or stripping the next puck. If you keep working hard, everything will come.”