David Stephens has traveled across the country for hockey only to return to where it all started.
The newest member of the Prince George Spruce Kings would like to put some bad luck behind him while helping his new team advance to and through the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.
"I'd like to win a championship and just contribute as much as I can," said Stephens.
The 19-year-old native of Whitehorse played in Prince George before with the Cariboo Cougars of the B.C. Major Midget League where he suited up with current Spruce Kings teammates Tyson Witala and, for a short time, Lyndon Martell from 2008 to 2010.
"I met a lot of good people here so it makes it that much easier," said Stephens.
After two seasons with the Cougars where Stephens played in 55 regular season games and contributed 63 points he made the leap to the major junior ranks with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. After a decent rookie season with the Oil Kings where he played in 30 games Stephens' hockey career suffered its first setback.
"I went into the second year and had concussion problems and it just didn't work out," he said. "I had a concussion in training camp but came back for a game and had another one that put me out until January." By that time the Oil Kings had their lineup set for what would be a run to the Memorial Cup, so Stephens left the Oil Kings and joined the Peninsula Panthers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League where he played 10 games and helped the Panthers earn a playoff spot with 13 points. Stephens had eight goals and 23 points in 17 playoff games as the Panthers advanced to the finals.
"I played with my best friend so I just had fun with it again," he said.
It was fun and restored his passion for hockey and he contacted the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League - older brother Ted helped lead the Wildcats to the 2010 Memorial Cup - but the injury bug struck again in October after Stephens had played only 12 games and contributed two assists.
This time it was a torn MCL that derailed his hockey career.
"I just went into the boards funny and tore it," said Stephens.
He didn't need surgery but since joining the Spruce Kings on January 9, Stephens has worn a brace on his right knee.
Stephens said he told the coaching staff and his teammates in Moncton that he wouldn't be returning after the Christmas break.
"They're a pretty good team and I didn't think I was going to play much," he said.
The friendship Stephens struck up with Martell during their brief time together with the MML Cougars continued as they both pursued major junior hockey success, Martell with the Regina Pats, and led to the Yukon native contacting the Spruce Kings.
In four games with the Kings, Stephens has contributed two goals and five points playing on a line with Martell.
Spruce Kings head coach Dave Dupas said he'd like to see the duo's chemistry continue to grow as Stephens gets more comfortable in the league.
"He hasn't played all year so I know his conditioning is going to get better but he's a good kid and a guy that's going to really help us win some games here," said Dupas. "He moves the puck well, he's smart with the puck and he puts it into good positions.
It may not be the way Stephens anticipated his hockey career going after his stint with Cariboo but, he said so far playing with the Spruce Kings has been good.
"I find you get more time with the puck and it's not as physical," said Stephens. "Since I've come here I'm playing a lot so it's fun. It's too bad I ran into injury problems but there's nothing you can do."