Each season in Tucson it’s been somebody new.
Christian Fischer, Nick Merkley and Tyler Steenbergen, to name a few.
A highly touted forward and Arizona Coyotes draft selection coming off of a successful junior hockey career that now faces the challenge of beginning their professional career in the American Hockey League.
This season, Nate Schnarr could become next in the line of those that have found success in Southern Arizona as they adjust their game while being one step away from their dream of playing in the National Hockey League.
The 20-year-old standing at 6-foot-3, 181-pounds is just months removed from leading his club in Guelph to an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Championship and totaling 102 points in just 65 games, good for the team’s pace and a top ten finish amongst all OHL skaters.
With plenty to celebrate during the summer months thanks to the aforementioned achievements, Schnarr’s attention was found more along the lines of preparation. Attending Arizona Coyotes Development Camp in June, Rookie and Main Camp earlier this month, the native of Waterloo, Ontario has gotten quite a taste of what to expect, also dressing in preseason action with the parent club prior to attending Roadrunners Training Camp this week.
“At this level you’re just going to have less time with the puck,” said the 2017 third round selection (#75 overall) when asked of what his biggest takeaway has been thus far. “It’s a fast game and everyone is always in the right spot – I’m excited.”
Eight days away from the club’s season opener in Texas and potentially Schnarr’s first official professional game, the preparation extends far beyond what’s transpired this summer in Arizona with the organization.
Following his 2017-18 season with Guelph (OHL), Schnarr made his way south to work with the staff’s development coaches and to be a figurative sponge, immersing himself the Roadrunners 2018 Calder Cup Playoff run.
Despite not appearing in a contest during the club’s two-series run against San Jose and Texas, the right-handed center took the experience for its full worth, citing it as a pivotal time that he utilized to achieve the success he obtained during his most recent season.
“It was really cool [to be around the team’s playoff run]. It was something I’d talk about with management, I wanted to learn what it’s like to be around a winning team, to be able to witness how guys treat their bodies, how they take care of themselves,” remarked Tucson’s #76 following Wednesday’s final Tucson skate at the Ice Den Scottsdale.
Traveling with the team to Milwaukee for this weekend’s preseason games with his new roster mates, Schnarr’s excitement is present in his tone regarding his time spent with the Roadrunners coaching staff.
“[Roadrunners Head Coach] Jay Varady does a really good job of bringing our group together and I think that’s key,” he remarked of his early evaluation. “The whole coaching staff has been great. I spent the summer with [Roadrunners Assistant Coach] Steve Potvin and I really enjoyed it. They bring a lot of energy, they’re really knowledgeable and I can see why they’re here.”
While Varady and staff work with Schnarr to process the on-ice alterations, the first-year pro thinks he can adapt to being a prospective Tucsonan for the next few months.
“It’s a little hot, but I’m looking forward to no snow,” he concluded with a chuckle. “It’ll be a nice treat.”