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You could say that hockey runs in Owen Sillinger’s blood. When he was born in 1997 his father, veteran NHL hockey player Mike Sillinger, was playing for the Vancouver Canucks.

“Obviously growing up with my dad playing in the NHL that’s all I’ve ever known,” said Owen. “Going to games and watching my dad on TV, it’s just something I grew up wanting to be is a hockey player.”

While Mike said he has never pushed his sons into hockey, Owen always had an interest.

“I think this kid had a hockey stick in his hand at the age of one. Mom was the goalie and he had a hockey stick,” said Mike. “So as far as encouraging, I can say that for all my boys, they wanted to play.”

“They grew up and that’s all they knew.”

Seventeen years later, Owen is making a name for himself in the sport. Now in his second year with the Midget AAA Pat Canadians, he is their top scorer with 58 points.

“Owen has earned everything to this point. He had a really good year last year playing AAA Midget with the Pat Canadians and this year he’s having a fantastic year,” said Mike.

Currently, the Pat Canadians are leading the league and the Sillingers have definitely had a hand in the teams’ success. Owen was also selected as an All-Star at the Mac’s Tournament when the team earned silver in January. Now, it’s on to the next one.

“My future goals, right now, are to help my team win in the Telus Cup this year,” said Owen.

The team finished fourth last year but now seems to be hitting its stride. This shift came after undergoing some changes last year. That’s when new head coach Brad Herauf stepped in and Mike took over the assistant coach position. This was also when Owen started playing with the team.

“It’s definitely something special to have your dad on the bench,” said Owen.

Mike played 17 seasons in the NHL with 12 different teams (a league record), after playing four seasons with the Regina Pats. He led the Pats in scoring for three out of the four seasons he was in the WHL.

Although people expect Owen to have a successful hockey career because of his dad, he said he doesn’t usually feel pressure because of it.

“I more take it as motivation just to see how far I can go. I know that I have his genes and I know what he’s done so far and I more take it as motivation to drive me to do better as a hockey player.”

Mike said despite the automatic attention he may receive, he wants Owen to focus on himself.

“He doesn’t have to be Mike Sillinger, he has to be Owen Sillinger,” Mike said. “Brad does a great job of giving him that understanding, that he has excellent qualities as far as being a top hockey player, and he doesn’t have to worry about doing what his dad did.”

So far, this reassurance has paid off, according to Mike.

“He has a lot of good qualities and obviously he’s leading our team in scoring this year because he can score, he can make great plays.”

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As for the future, Owen isn’t sure exactly what he’ll end up doing but said he hopes to either play in the WHL with the Portland Winter Hawks or the SJHL for the Melville Millionaires. He could also play in the BC junior hockey league, which would grant him scholarships for schooling.

No matter what, Mike said he is supportive, and tries not to influence Owen’s decisions.

He said he doesn’t want him to choose the WHL just because that’s what his dad did.

“My hopes for Owen are just to have success at whatever level he wants to be at, you know,” said Mike. “He’s got teams all over him right now to move on.”

“I want him to be happy with what he chooses.”

Owen describes his relationship with his dad as, “very special,” and said his younger brothers, ages 14 and 11, also share in that.

“My dad’s very close with us,” he said. “He’s around a lot; obviously he’s been working with the Pats now, so it’s good.”

This is something the family has been able to enjoy since moving back after Mike’s NHL retirement in 2009.

Now Owen, who says his favourite player is Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames, is taking his opportunity to follow the hockey greats.

“Those hopes are always alive,” said Mike. “I just continue to see him get better.”