St. Croix skating in father's footsteps

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, Last Updated: 1:24 PM ET

So, you're a rookie in the Western Hockey League.

Doesn't matter if you were the hotshot in all the leagues you've played in to get this far.

As they say in Texas: "Son, you've still got some learnin' to do."

Two sons are experiencing their WHL risings this season with the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Michael St. Croix is a slick centre used to making magic with the puck.

The son of former Philadelphia Flyers backstop Rick St. Croix tore through Manitoba midget goalies like mosquitoes tear through a Manitoba summer.

He flashed his skill in his call-ups with the Oil Kings last season and again during this year's preseason.

Now comes the grind. And finding that every puck you touch doesn't automatically twitch a goal judge's finger.

Frustrating?

"You can't be too hard on yourself in hockey," said St. Croix.

PUSH

"You have to push yourself and demand the best, but times aren't always going to be the best and you just have to keep going.

"It's obviously an adjustment period coming in here after playing midget last year and making the jump to the WHL.

"It's something that's been taking time, but I've been feeling more confident every game."

Confidence is carried by a rookie Oil Kings defenceman who carries his father's number and position.

Keegan Lowe -- son of, well, you-know-who -- was more of a surprise to make the junior squad that runs under the ownership of the particular NHL team his dad runs.

Despite the spotlight his name brings, playing at a U.S. prep school lessened the immediate anticipation that comes from big minor-hockey numbers.

"I didn't really think about all of that," Lowe said.

"I was just coming in with my own expectations and trying to reach my own goals.

"That's what it means to me -- that I've got to perform to what I think I can and nothing less."

Hand-me-down experience from big-league dads can provide a solid grounding and mean the next generation won't be as starry-eyed.

But nothing beats seeing it for yourself.

"It's paying attention to the little details," said St. Croix.

"That's something I've had to work on. Cleaning up my locker, my stall. School. Everything! It's all one thing in the big picture."

Added Lowe: "To me, it's going pretty good. We won some games at the start, so it was kind of easier to adjust because everyone is in a good mood.

HELPING

"The older guys are helping us out a lot in the practices, giving us tips, so I think that, overall, my adjustment has been pretty good. Better than I expected."

Oh, yeah.

There's a little book learnin' to be done, as well.

"(That's) something most WHL players have done their whole lives," Grade 11 student St. Croix said of maintaining his marks.

"Even in midget, you're still travelling, still having to get all your schoolwork done. It takes time and effort, but you need to do it."

Lowe agrees -- but sounds less enthusiastic about the subject.

"It's hard when you go on road trips to keep up with the schoolwork, but you've got to set your priorities and say on the bus, 'I've got to get this done.'

"I'm used to it from last year -- you had to balance school and hockey and there were lots of road trips. When it's game day, it's game day. It's not school stuff. But you've still got to take care of that, too."

After all, nobody likes homework.

"Some people do," Lowe laughed. "But not me."

DAVID.CAMERON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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