SIOUX FALLS, S.D.– Both Brent Johnson and Cole Sillinger shined in their only full seasons with the Stampede.
“Coaches gave me a lot of opportunity and freedom. I think I kind of just gained some confidence and kind of kept going with it. It was really exciting to see how much better I got as the year went along and how much confidence, and how good I was at the end of the season,” Johnson said.
“Having that option to go to Sioux Falls be coached by Marty, Skinner. You know Marty and Skins, both NHL guys. To kind of be a part of an older culture group, older culture league, it was great,” Sillinger said.
Sillinger only came to Sioux Falls after the Western Hockey League cut its season short due to the pandemic. He would lead the Herd in goals and points, despite only playing in 31 games.
“I’m still a young kid. I’m only 18 years old. I think for me playing games is the biggest thing for me and what’s going to allow me to play at the next level,” Sillinger said.
Johnson led all Stampede defenseman in scoring, and ranked second among draft eligible defenseman in the USHL with 32 points.
“I always played forward growing up and then I switched to ‘D’ around 14, 13. So I think I always had that offensive skill in my toolbox and just coming into this year I think I figured out how to use it effectively,” Johnson said.
Sillinger is a projected first round pick by most draft analysts, while Johnson was ranked as the 38th North American Skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Department. Regardless of where they go, both can’t wait to chase their dream.
“Ultimately it’s what I want to do. My goal is to play in the National Hockey League. I’m not really too focused on the number. I want to go to a team that wants me the most,” Sillinger said.
“Just really excited, a lot of nerves. But like you said, a lot of excitement. I have no clue what’s going to happen. It will be fun to see how it turns out,” Johnson said.