It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. Although Logan Stankoven
expected more from himself early in the 2021-22 season, a confidence boost
set him up for his best year in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
Fresh off signing an entry-level contract with the Dallas Stars last
September, he returned to the WHL from the Stars’ training camp just in
time to open the season with the Kamloops Blazers. However, the transition
back to junior hockey was more difficult than the centre expected.
“I think it was a little bit harder to adjust the timing part and making
plays with your teammates,” he says. “You go from trying to keep up to
those bigger guys at camp, and then come back to junior hockey and it’s not
quite as fast, so your timing’s a bit off. You just kind of want to race
all over the place because that’s what you’re used to in pro hockey.”
Although it felt like a bit of a slow start to Stankoven, the Kamloops,
B.C., native registered 13 goals and 32 points in his first 22 games of the
season. Even still, he was shocked when he received an invite to the
Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp in December.
“It was definitely a huge surprise,” he says. “I thought my first half of
the season was good, but it wasn’t great [or] standout.”
Stankoven’s Blazers teammate, goaltender Dylan Garand, was also invited to
the camp. As a returning member from the 2021 National Junior Team, Garand
provided advice and positive encouragement to his Kamloops teammate
throughout the selection process.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, Stankoven was limited to playing in only one
exhibition game during the selection camp, but he certainly made the most
of his opportunity.
“He played really, really good that game, and I said to him, ‘I think
that’s the best game you’ve ever played, man,’” Garand says. “After he put
on that performance in [that] game, I definitely wasn’t surprised he made
[the team] at all.”
“I really tried to leave a good statement for myself,” Stankoven adds.
“[Making the National Junior Team] was a pretty surprising moment for
myself, but definitely [full of] lots of excitement and joy.”
Although he was a healthy scratch in pre-tournament play and for the
tournament opener against Czechia, Stankoven scored a goal in his World Juniors debut against Austria on Dec. 28.
“That was just kind of a surreal moment because, you know, you grew up
watching the World Juniors around Christmas time and getting that chance to
actually play in it—it’s such a huge event,” he explains. “To be on TV and
to get exposure and to play in front of family and friends that were there,
it’s pretty cool.”
Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused the tournament to be
cancelled the following day. He may have been limited to only one game, but
the overall experience had a large impact on the 19-year-old.
“I think just knowing that I deserve to be on the team and getting that
call, the Hockey Canada staff had confidence in me and trusted in me to be
part of the team,” he explains. “It was definitely a huge confidence boost
and something that I built off.”
That confidence instantly transferred into Stankoven’s game. Across the
remainder of the regular season, he recorded 32 goals and 72 points in 37
games, finishing with nine multi-point efforts in his final 10 games
(posting 24 points in that span).
He continued to excel in the postseason, scoring 17 goals and 31 points in
17 games—including four playoff hat tricks—before the Blazers were knocked
out of the WHL playoffs in the semifinals by the Seattle Thunderbirds.
“As soon as he got back, he just took off and he flew for the rest of the
season,” Garand says. “He was a huge part of our success. We had a really
good team and we had a really good year, and he was a huge part of that,
especially in the second half.”
Stankoven’s success on the ice also earned him some hardware, with the
centre earning the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as WHL player of the year
as well as the David Branch Player of the Year Award in the Canadian Hockey
“It’s pretty cool to be recognized across the whole CHL, and there’s so
many other great players that could have won it,” he says. “I think it just
goes to show that it’s not only myself that wins the award, I think it’s my
whole team because they’ve definitely helped me and I was on a winning
team. So kudos to those guys as well.”
In addition, Stankoven also won the Brad Hornung Memorial Trophy as the
WHL’s most sportsmanlike player award, to which he credits his parents for
raising him to be respectful and a humble person.
“It doesn’t matter how good of a hockey player you are, or how good of a
player you are in any sport. If you’re not a good person, you won’t go far
in life,” he says. “Once my time is over here in Kamloops, I want to be
remembered as a person that make a positive difference in the
“He just leads by example, you know, shows up, does the right things, works
hard every day,” Garand says of Stankoven. “I think guys really look up to
him for that.”
With the rescheduling of a summertime 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship
in Edmonton, Stankoven, Garand and their teammates have another opportunity
to wear the Maple Leaf on an international stage.
“A lot of us took it pretty hard once everything was shut down and it was
all kind of up in the air whether or not we’re going to be able to replay
the tournament,” Stankoven says. “So it’s nice that everything’s starting
from scratch and we have another chance to hopefully take home a gold
“For me especially, there were only three of us that were returning in
December, and we still had a tough taste in our mouth from winning silver
[in 2021],” Garand adds. “It’s our last opportunity and there’s nothing
more than I want to win a gold medal this time.”
Looking towards next season, things are a little up in the air for
Stankoven. He had a strong development camp with the Stars last month and
was named the camp’s most outstanding player. He could also end up back
home in Kamloops to prepare for the Memorial Cup, which will be hosted by
the Blazers for the first time since 1995.
“I think it’s just kind of a win-win situation no matter what, whether I’m
in Dallas or I come back to Kamloops, being able to host a Memorial Cup in
front of my hometown, and I’m sure we’re going to get some great crowds to
come out and watch us” he says. “Being in Dallas would be really ideal, but
I know that it’s going to take a lot of work.”
For now, Stankoven’s eyes are on World Juniors gold, and he’s ready to ride
the momentum he’s gained from the end of the 2021-22 season into Edmonton.
“He’s really just found his game, he knows what works for him and obviously
it’s brought him a lot of success,” Garand says. “Knowing him, I know he’s
going to bring that to our team here in August. I think he’s going to play
a much more prominent role than he did at Christmas time, and he’s
definitely going to be a big part of us on our journey to a gold medal.”