Eberle has played a big role with hometown Pats

JASON HILLS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Jordan Eberle was a Regina Pats season-ticket holder as a kid and he learned what it meant to play for the Pats as the hometown kid.

In their 90-year-history, the Pats have a long list of Regina-born players who have made an impact on the storied franchise.

From as far back as Doug Wickenheiser and Dirk Graham, to Josh Harding and Garth Murray in recent times, now in just Eberle's second season with the Pats, he's making quite the impact of his own.

At just 17-years-old, the hometown boy is leading the Pats in scoring with 22 goals and 35 points in 29 games and is widely considered to be a first-round pick in the 2008 NHL draft.

He is one of the WHL's most prolific scorers, despite being just 5-ft.-9 and 174 lbs.

"I remember going to Pats games when I was younger and I always wanted to be a Pat. Many of those players were very impressionable on me," said Eberle.

"Growing up here and watching this team, you can't help but be a fan. It's a big dream to be able to put on their jersey."

Eberle's family moved to Calgary when he was 14 and he headed to Wilcox, Sask., to play for the Notre Dame Hounds.

After one season there, he moved to Calgary to be with his parents.

Eberle was chosen by the Pats in the seventh round, 126th overall, in the 2005 WHL bantam draft and the following season, Ebele helped lead the Calgary Buffaloes to an Alberta Midget AAA Provincial championship.

They narrowly lost to the Prince Albert Mintos in the Telus Cup Final.

"I remember one of our scouts told me there is small and there is tiny, and he's tiny," said Pats general manger Brent Parker, who drafted Eberle at just 5-ft.-7 and

125 lbs.

"We knew he truly wanted to be a Pat. I think for a lot of kids who grow up in the prairies it still means a lot to play for your hometown team. We had that with a guy like Josh Harding. He set franchise records and was a league MVP and I would put Jordan in that same class."

"Based on the numbers he has put up the past two seasons, I think we left him out there way too long."

Eberle has always been an offensive force, but under the tutelage of former Regina Pats forward Dale Derkatch who was his head coach at Notre Dame for one season he was able to take the next step.

"I learned a lot from him. He was a small player like me and he really showed me that you don't have to be a big, powerful guy to score goals and put up points."

Derkatch still holds the Pats record for career goals (222), assists (269) and points (491) and he was just 5-ft.-5. Derkatch spoke at the Pats' season-opening breakfast and he said Eberle could one day break the Pats team records.

Eberle has been a key cog for the Pats in their turnaround the past two seasons. After hosting the Memorial Cup in 2001, the Pats suffered some lean years, including a 12 -win season in 2004-2005.


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