PENTICTON, B.C. - There's nothing like a high ankle sprain to slow down a speedster. Just ask Jordan Schroeder.
The Vancouver Canucks' 22nd overall pick in 2009, who's known for his skating, didn't use the injury as an excuse when he spoke about his mediocre performance in the AHL last season. But he admitted things may have been different if not for the mid-season ailment.
"You never know how the season would have went if that didn't happen. But it did, and that's part of the game," Schroeder said this week at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, B.C. "It's not fun, especially when you're in there recovering every day while all the guys are out on the ice having fun playing games."
After suffering the sprain in a Dec. 10 game with the Manitoba Moose, the forward missed five weeks of action and 16 games in total. He came back to record just five goals and 10 assists in the remaining 36 games and finished his first pro campaign with 28 points in 61 games.
Criticism followed but the 21-year-old American has taken it all in stride.
"Last year was a learning experience," he said. "There's ups and downs and I learned a lot about what it takes to be a pro and I've definitely grown from it. I do set high standards for myself and if I don't achieve those high standards, I am disappointed in myself."
Schroeder also understands the pressure that comes from playing for a team in a rabid hockey market.
"I stay away from reading all you (media) guys," he said with a laugh. "There's definitely more of a spotlight on you if you're a higher pick, but I try to block that out as much as possible. It could get in your head. That's why I focus on myself and focus on being a great teammate."
That starts with improving his game, he said, especially on the defensive side. Schroeder finished last season a minus-7.
"I'm really working on winning the one-on-one battles in the corner," said the five-foot-nine, 180-pounder. "I'm not the biggest guy out there so I really need to focus on using my stick and speed.
"For now, I just want to finish this tournament strong and hopefully get a chance to go to main camp and prove myself."