A Player to Watch: Austin Sanchez

There’s a double standard that exists within the game of hockey. It happens at every level to a certain extent. The diminutive skilled player that can skate like the wind and make plays shift in, shift out, game in, game out still aren’t being valued. Organizations and hockey people can say they value them all day long, but when push comes to shove, some in the hockey world want nothing to do with “small players.”
Austin Sanchez of the Moncton Flyers like many others before him is trying to change all of that.
Sadly, some organizations won’t draft or even consider small highly skilled prospects, in all honesty they want nothing to do with them, they don’t have the patience to allow them to develop.

You see all it takes is one person, one organization that has the guts to stand up and believe in the player, but also believe in their own projections as a scout.
The “it doesn’t matter what size you are” argument doesn’t hold water in some organizations. Which is a real shame.
Diminutive skilled players with outstanding hockey IQ like Austin Sanchez continue to be overlooked by some in the hockey world. In many cases these types of players are never really given a chance, never given a fair shake to crack the next level because of this archaic preconceived notion about “small players.”
“Give me big, tall physical players and I’m sure they will wear down their opponent.”
Ok I get it, I’ve heard all the hockey talk and banter, but seriously there’s always the exceptions to the rule. More and more of “those” types of players are excelling in the game. All some of these players need is an opportunity to prove they belong.
The “what have you done lately” mentality often follows players like Austin Sanchez all the way through his path in the game.
Sanchez is one of the smartest players, not just rookies in the NB/PEI Major U18 AAA league. He excels at all subtle aspects of the game. The 15-year-old from Lewisville, can play both forward positions with relative ease.
The puck always seems to find the skilled forward because he’s always in the right position. The puck also finds him because he isn’t timid or scared to go to the dirty areas of the ice to create time and space for himself and his teammates.
His routes to pucks and ability to find quiet areas of the ice in all three zones is exceptional.

Sanchez is extremely creative with the puck and possesses a hard accurate release for his stature. His agility, vision, and uncanny ability to spot the open man in all three zones are definitely his strongest attributes.
The Flyers rookie forward isn’t flashy, he plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played, the right way in all three zones. He doesn’t cheat, he’s always on the right side of the puck when he plays the wing and through the middle. Some would be concerned with point production, the points will definitely come. As of right now the Flyers coaching staff have him playing as their 3rd line center. Sanchez is skilled enough to play up and down any line up and possesses top six skill.
Obviously, he will have to get stronger to ensure he wins more one on one puck battles at this level and beyond, but you could say that about any first-year Midget player.
I’m sure all of the “analytics types” have their programs calculating all of the numbers, height, weight and projections. I have yet to see computer programs measuring the matrix of a kids heart, character and determination.
Austin Sanchez is all heart. That trait definitely runs in the family.
It doesn’t take long to notice #23 for the Moncton Flyers, his solid two-way presence and hockey IQ jumps off the page. Sanchez creates and makes plays every time he’s on the ice. He’s engaged in the play in all three zones and does everything that is asked of him and more. His versatility and hockey sense will serve him this year and beyond.
The names, examples and stories are endless when it comes to ultra talented diminutive players excelling in the game.
“They will never make it.”
“They haven’t got a chance in hell to make it, they’re just too damn small.”
Nowadays, it’s the players that are having the last laugh.
This isn’t about the Q or NCAA route or best option, this is all about a double standard that needs to be addressed at the grass roots levels all the way up. Hockey’s double standards surrounding a player’s stature are archaic. You see the “real” hockey people understand, they are innovators and true believers when it comes to this aspect of the game. Often those skeptics are the ones being left behind.
Value is value, a player is a player, it doesn’t matter what size they are.
Austin Sanchez is a hockey player and damn good one at that.
Trust what you see and what you believe in, not all what you hear.
The sky is the limit for Austin Sanchez and other skilled cerebral players of his stature.
All these players need is someone to believe in them and an opportunity, they will take care of the rest.
Beware of hockey’s double standards and those that still believe in them.
If you don’t believe me, go watch the kid play.

Photo Credit Normand Leger


  1. Great article Craig Eagles, so enjoyed reading this one and I hope this player is not overlooked for his size and that he has the chance to prove his size has nothing to do with the game. Good luck young man !!


  2. I’ve been fortunate enough to watch Austin since Novice. His hockey IQ has always been off the charts. He is a very respectful young person on and off the ice and any team he suits up for will be that much better having him part of their club!


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