West Kelowna Warriors fans should be careful when they choose to blink this season, especially when a certain player steps onto the ice.
Matthiew Stienberg now wears number 20 for the Warriors, but fans won’t have to look hard to notice when he’s playing.
Standing at 6-foot-1, Stienberg is a physical centreman who plays a 200-foot game. He is known to be quick, deceptive and can make highly skilled plays at full-speed. He also has strong leadership qualities, serving as captain for St. Andrew’s College in 2018-19, where he took the league by storm, registering 66 points (31 G, 35 A) in 48 games played.
There at St. Andrews he caught the attention of scouts and was selected 63rd overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2019 NHL Draft.
In April, all was looking up for the 20-year-old who was in the midst of his rookie season at Cornell University (Men’s Hockey Div. 1, NCAA). Appearing in 27 games, he picked up 10 points and was certainly heating up. That was until COVID-19 caused the season to come to a crashing halt.
The NCAA would later announce it would not return for the 2020-21 season and Steinberg was faced with finding a new home, a new team to continue his development and to pursue his dream of one day playing in the NHL.
“I think the big thing for me is the BCHL is a pretty high-end league and is probably the best Jr. A league in Canada,” said Stienberg, referring to his decision to sign with the Warriors.
“I think the USHL in Sioux City would have been a great option for me having played a few games there a couple of years ago, but I think with (COVD-19) the main thing was feeling comfortable being in Canada. Kelowna is a beautiful place to live and I felt really comfortable with the facility and the supporting staff.”
Another factor in Stienberg’s decision to join the Warriors was the opportunity to play with Wyllum Deveaux. The two played against each other growing up in Nova Scotia’s minor program and became quite close over the years. He said having his close friend around is an added bonus and that Deveaux along with the rest of the players and staff have been very welcoming.
“The guys and the coaching staff have done a great job in making me feel welcome. It’s a pretty close-knit group of guys, so I’m happy to be apart of that and everyone’s been great so far,” said Stienberg.
But while he will surely give a boost to the already star-studded Warriors lineup, many are wondering what the lower competition level will do for his development. The BCHL’s age bracket is from 16 to 20 and will be much different from what he’s used to; battling men in the NCAA.
“I mean, obviously it’s a different game and maybe a little bit of a step back, but I think there’s a lot of benefits of that for me,” said Stienberg.
“I can come and contribute more offensively. Be leaned on in some important situations and I think at the end of the day there’s a lot of growth that can be made.”
Stienberg has only appeared in one game for the Warriors so far this season. Due to rough conditions in the U.S. surrounding COVID-19, he was kept off the ice for some time before making the jump back to Canada. He said he still needs some time to shake off some rust before he feels comfortable jumping back onto the lineup full time.
“It’s challenging being at school there for a month and having very limited resources and then coming here and having to quarantine for two weeks. It’s been a bit difficult jumping back into things. Obviously, the pace of this league is pretty high. It’s going to take me a bit to get back in the swing of things.”
Make sure to catch Stienberg and the Warriors at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9 when they take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at Royal LePage Arena. Click this link at game time for the live feed.