WHL Next Generation is a 22-part series highlighting a handful of the future stars of the Western Hockey League. From first-round bantam draft picks to later-blooming selections, get to know the names of players set to establish themselves as the newest crop of exciting talent to grace the WHL. From August 1 through September 11, get the inside scoop on the incoming crew of 16-year-olds.
Tarun Fizer wasn’t about to let something as small as a broken collarbone derail his first season of Midget hockey.
The Victoria Royals’ fourth round pick, 69th overall at the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, Fizer was in the midst of a fantastic rookie season with the Foothills CFR Bisons of the Alberta Midget Hockey League when he took a huge hit from a player that was coming out of the penalty box.
Initially, it looked as though the injury might end the young gun’s season.
Despite that poor outlook, though, Fizer was back in the lineup in time to help his team to an appearance in the AMHL final in late March.
“It was a good year for sure. It just sucked that I got injured,” Fizer said. “It wasn’t that bad because I was supposed to be out for the rest of the year but I came back in the playoffs there and helped the team.”
At the time of his injury, the Chestermere product was at the tail end of a season that saw him post 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 27 regular season games.
He would go on to add another goal and an assist in six playoff appearances after returning from his injury midway through the AMHL semi-finals.
Even though he put up some pretty good numbers offensively, Fizer said it took some time for him to adjust to playing Midget hockey after posting some outstanding totals in his second year of Bantam a season prior.
Thanks to @victoriaroyals for the great experience at camp these last couple of weeks! Looking forward to next year already
— Tarun Fizer (@FizerTarun) 5 September 2016
“It was a pretty big jump, actually, because last year in Bantam you were playing among fast players but this year you’re play against guys that are three years older than you,” Fizer said. “You don’t see many 15-year-olds in the league – maybe one or two per team.”
The transition wasn’t a complete shock to the 5-foot-9, 146-pound winger, though.
Like most prospects, Fizer attended training camp shortly after being drafted by the Royals and even appeared in two pre-season contests with the WHL club.
“It was really nerve racking because you don’t really know anyone at all, so I was really nervous to go and meet people and try to prove myself,” Fizer said of his first experience at a WHL training camp.
Still, donning the dark blue threads of the Royals for those pre-season games was a special experience for the skilled young right winger.
“I used to have season tickets out here in Calgary and I just always wanted to play for one of the WHL teams,” Fizer said. “To actually get the chance to suit up in the uniform, even if it was just in pre-season was just huge. It was just really fun.”
For Fizer, who is from small-town Alberta, playing on Vancouver Island has been quite an adjustment in itself.
“It’s a lot nicer there. It was different because I’ve never really played in B.C. before at all. I’ve been to Burnaby a couple of times and played tournaments but just the atmosphere is a lot different there than it is here,” he said.
Now, heading into his second training camp with the Royals, Fizer is hoping that his experience last year in addition to his skating ability and offensive instincts will be enough to help him stick with the big club full-time this season.
“I believe I have the skill to make it, I just have to show the coaching staff that I can play on that team.”