Some players fly under the radar and go unnoticed.
Some players impact and value is only truly appreciated by their teammates and coaches.
Sean Stewart is one of the most underrated defencemen in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but people are now starting to take notice.
The gritty stay at home defencemen from Antigonish, Nova Scotia isn’t flashy he just gets the job done every time he steps on the ice.
Stewart plays the game the right way with heart, determination and an unwavering will to compete.
That’s certainly not understated in the game today.
Shift in shift out, the former TELUS Cup Champion blueliner’s stay at home presence continues to be a difference maker for the Wildcats.
Every team with championship aspirations need a defencemen like Sean Stewart.
Stewart may not blow your mind or catch your eye when he patrols the Cats blueline and that’s perfectly fine by him.
Only true hockey connoisseurs understand Stewart’s value and impact.
Sean Stewart is the type of player that doesn’t get noticed, doesn’t get all the press, headlines and notoriety.
He just shows up punches the card and goes to work.
Perhaps the greatest compliment for a stay at home solid two-way hard to play against defencemen is just that.
“Wow I didn’t even notice him out there.”
Stewart may not appear on the scoresheet, but he possesses all the other intangibles it takes to be a very effective player and a cornerstone in any championship caliber blueline.
Stewart’s progression and trajectory has been remarkable, but it shouldn’t be a surprise considering the amount of time and effort the 18 year old has invested into his craft.
“I think all throughout my time with the Wildcats Darryl Boyce has always worked with me and helped me out.”
“When Ryan Salvis came in this year they both worked with me on my skating and that’s what made me have a bigger jump in my game,” said Stewart.
Stewart is to quick to credit his new D partner Swedish import and Boston Bruins Prospect Axel Andersson with his subsequent success this season.
“When Axel came in as well that really helped me and put me in a good position to play with a player like that allows me to fulfil my role and play my game the best I can.”
“In the off season I knew I would have a bigger role with the team this year so I really worked hard and worked out a ton,” admitted Stewart.
Stewart worked tirelessly on his stride and edge control over the past few summers with Nova Scotian power skating guru Jill Plandowski.
“I skated quite a bit during the summer with Jill.”
“Sean has come to train in the off season for the last three summers,” Plandowski said.
“Sean is an incredibly hard worker and has really improved his posture, stride and mechanics and D specific skating.”
“He’s one of those kids that is a pleasure to coach.”
“You’re always going to get his hundred percent effort with a positive attitude,” she added.
“I’ve enjoyed watching Sean’s efforts transfer into his game this year.”
“Jill’s great to with,” Stewart said.
All the work and dedication has certainly paid off for Stewart who starting to draw some attention from NHL Scouts.
“I had the first half I wanted here and played some good hockey. I hope to continue that trend after the break for sure.”
Did the Antigonish product every think he would ever get to this point in his career?
“I was always kind of a top player growing up and that this was always a goal of mine from around Bantam age,” confessed the shy soft spoken rearguard.
“My first year Bantam I wasn’t quite as strong, but my second year I played a bigger role with that team as well.”
Stewart is quick to credit Wildcats teammate Jake Stewart’s father and his Uncle Mike for mentoring him at that time.
From second year Atom all the way to Bantam Stewart’s mentorship profoundly influenced his nephews path to the Q.
“Mike was a big part of my development,” Stewart said proudly.
“Mike let me play a lot and log a lot of minutes.”
There’s no question Sean Stewart understands haw to handle playing in any high pressure situation.
So does the solid two-way defender draw on his TELUS Cup experience when it comes to preparing for big games in the Q?
“Yeah knowing how to play in big games and knowing how to play in big moments. That experience was invaluable, I’ve never played in games as big as those for a national championship.”
“You know how to play in big games with that experience.”
Calm, cool and collected, that’s Sean Stewart, but don’t let that fool under that quiet demeanour exists a fierce competitor willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Stewart is one of the toughest characters around and never shies away from the physical aspects of the game.
It’s not uncommon to see the defencemen come to the aid of a teammate and stand up for what’s right. If that means dropping the gloves so be it.
Stewart’s stellar play this season shouldn’t be over looked, but the player and person should be applauded for the adversity he faced a year ago.
In and out of the lineup Stewart was thrust into the forward position.
Sound familiar, very similar to now pro and former Wildcat teammate Jonathan Aspirot.
Many young players wouldn’t know how to cope with a change of position, Sean Stewart embraced it and confronted it head on.
“Last year I was just happy to be put in the lineup when they moved me up front,” explained Stewart.
“Before that I was out of the lineup so it was good to be in.”
“I wanted to do it the best I could. I embraced the role. I wanted to play my best at whatever role the coaches entrusted in me on the ice.”
One of the big question marks coming into this season was Sean Stewart and what position he would play for a Cats team with championship aspirations.
“They gave me the option,” admitted Stewart.
There’s no question Stewart chose wisely.
“I’m happy to be back playing defence.”
“It’s the position I’ve always played and it’s where I feel the most comfortable.”
The Andersson Stewart pairing as become the Wildcats go to shut down pairing. The duo compliment each other very well.
So how good is the Boston Bruins 2nd rounder?
“He’s easy to play with,” Stewart said with a big smile on his face.
“Axel is always talking out there and supporting you, and you always have options to pass it to.”
“I think our games really compliment each other, I allow him to jump into the rush and I don’t mind staying back and playing a more defensive role.”
“I think we have played good together, it’s just easy to play when you’re on the ice with a player like him.”
Stewart is quick to downplay all the white noise with regards to the attention his game is now receiving from NHL Scouts.
“You definitely hear about it, and it’s good to hear all the hard work is paying off.”
“I’ve worked hard to get here and I’m going to continue to work hard and just try to keep playing my game.”
“I’m not going to think about that too much I’m just going to keep playing the game and everything work out.”
As the first half of the season comes to an end how excited is Stewart to be a part of a team with championship aspirations?
“Our potential is through the roof especially with the group we have and depending on what happens during the Trade Period I’m sure we are going to be bringing in some big guys and are going to be making a run.”
“It’s going to be exciting for sure.”
Underrated, but not understated.
Sean Stewart’s journey in the QMJHL continues, but don’t you worry the gritty solid stay at home defencemen is starting to get noticed.