FUTURE WATCH | Travis Ewanyk
Oilers prospect Travis Ewanyk is becoming a fan favourite in Oklahoma City for his social media and community presence
They might have broke the character mold when they made Travis Ewanyk.
While some young athletes would be content to focus only on honing their game and focusing on hockey in its simplest form, this 20-year-old Oilers prospect focuses on self-growth off of the ice as much as development on the ice.
In his first professional season, Ewanyk has taken to Oklahoma City like a duck to water.
"I like it, it's a great town," Ewanyk said. "The fan base is growing and the fans we do have are extremely passionate about hockey. They treat us so well here…It's been comfortable and everyone just makes you feel at home."
Have to say I'm on the fence on who to cheer for in this Oklahoma show down. Sooner or poke? #CollegeGameday— Travis Ewanyk (@T_Ewanyk) December 7, 2013
Edmonton's American Hockey League affiliate, the Barons, reside in a city with a small town feel that takes great pride in community involvement and helping others. They embrace those who embrace them, which works perfectly with the character of Ewanyk.
"Since I was 16, coming into the junior leagues, I always enjoyed doing it," Ewanyk said of his enjoyment of community initiatives. "Whether it was floor hockey or reading visits or whatever, I've enjoyed it. It's something that I like and hope to only grow on as I get a bigger profile and I can do some stuff on my own."
|Photo from Travis Ewanyk's intagram account from a children's hospital visit in Oklahoma City earlier in December.
The AHL rookie is very involved with social media and uses Twitter as a forum to communicate with his local fan base. Scroll through his feed and you will notice that he also takes his community involvement offline. He posts pictures of his visits with the team to children's hospitals and Special Olympics events.
"I just like doing it," he said. "I've always been a guy that has liked to get out in the community. With the Oil Kings, I always tried to be one of the first guys to raise my hand to do events and what not. It just really humbles you. Obviously, you go out and do it for them but at the same time, selfishly, it give you time to step back and just appreciate what you're given here. Even if you can make one kid smile or change one kid's day, it's an unbelievable feeling."
Ewanyk, a St. Albert native, genuinely enjoys the work he does in the local community. It is exactly the high character which the Edmonton Oilers organization covets. It was surely a factor in them drafting the forward 74th overall, in the third round, of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
|Travis and his Special Olympics buddy pose for some photobooth pictures at an event this season. Photo by Steven Christy.
"It's just humbling to get the opportunity to go brighten a kid's day like that, a sick kid in the hospital, I'd take the chance to do that any day. It's unbelievable. We're so grateful with what we get. You go in there and see a kid that is literally fighting for his life and it just makes you realize how fortunate you are and I just love doing that stuff in the community."
On the ice, Ewanyk has used this season to find an identity which could eventually help him make a push onto a NHL roster. He plays an 'in-your-face' style that leans towards a more physical presence. So far this season, he's been able to develop those skills in every game the Barons have played.
"Playing in every game has been great for my confidence. The coaches trust me in the lineup day in and day out, which gives me that confidence behind me to play that kind of style of game that I know that I can bring to the Oilers."
"I'm just an energy guy. I try to play a bigger body game and I try to play physical out there. I'm killing a lot of penalties here and take a lot of face offs. I think that's the stuff I can bring up to the Oilers and being strong, physical and playing that style of game."
With any young prospect, it's good for them to experience life in the minors and to see the fruits of their labour. For Ewanyk, he has had the opportunity to see a few fellow OKC teammates get a shot with the Oilers this season, which has given him extra motivation to perform.
"Just knowing that it's right there gives you motivation that you want to get to that level," he said.
One of Ewanyk's biggest takeaways from this season so far, is that he's not in the WHL anymore. After playing with the Edmonton Oil Kings from 2008-2013, Ewanyk has moved on up and things have changed drastically.
"It's a huge leap," he said. "The size of the players, the speed and the skill level is a giant leap. You go from pretty much playing against boys and some men in the junior leagues, then you go pro and it's all men out here. You're playing against guys that have played hundreds of games in the NHL and guys who are going to play hundreds of games in the NHL. Everyone is trying to claw to get up there. It's competitive every night."
Barons Player Stats | AHL Standings | Barons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 2012-13 | 2011-12
Stats Updated as of Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:45 p.m. MST
|d||19||36||4||7||11||-3||45||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|f||18||33||19||18||37||15||30||CALGARY HITMEN (WHL)|
|DARNELL NURSE||D||18||35||9||25||34||7||66||SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)|
|F||18||34||17||11||28||-3||34||VANCOUVER GIANTS (WHL)|
|f||19||25||7||10||17||2||31||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|F||19||34||21||13||34||14||87||EDMONTON OIL KINGS (WHL)|
|F||18||35||8||7||15||-3||12||LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)|
|F||24||23||4||5||9||1||59||JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)|
|F||19||35||3||0||3||1||8||NIZHNY NOVGOROD (RUSSIA)|
|26||12||4||6||2||2.64||.921||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|LAURENT BROSSOIT||20||7||2||4||0||3.53||.885||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|LAURENT BROSSOIT||20||2||1||1||0||1.00||.958||BAKERSFIELD (ECHL)|
|TYLER BUNZ||21||4||1||1||1||3.15||.914||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|22||N/A||n/a||n/a||n/a||N/A||N/A||HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)|