At first glance, Tanner Lam appears to be just like any other 15-year-old. He loves to play NHL 23 on the X-Box with his friends and is currently watching the third season of the TV show Outer Banks. He enjoys watching football and basketball and playing soccer and hockey. He idolizes famous athletes such as Mitch Marner and Patrick Kane. But there is one key difference between Lam and other teenagers his age – he dominated the OMHA’s South-Central AAA Hockey League’s U16 division this season and is a highly-ranked prospect in the upcoming Ontario Hockey League draft.
“It’s very special, there are a lot of great players in our league,” Lam said of leading the way with 48 goals and 88 points in 42 games. “Even on my team, a lot of them are going to get drafted (into the OHL) really high and thinking of me being the top scorer feels good.”
Lam set himself up for the next step with his monster season for the Halton Hurricanes and as a scorer and playmaker with great IQ and stick-handling skills, he likens his game to that of Kane and Marner.
Listed at five-foot-10 and 141 pounds, his creativity and vision on the ice will become even more crucial at the next level, where the average OHL player this season was listed at six feet, 181 pounds.
“What he’s doing in terms of moving the puck, in the defensive zone, making play after play,” said his father, Ken, “it’s remarkable to watch.”
Lam’s hockey journey began because of his half-nieces and half-nephews -- grandchildren from Ken’s first marriage who played hockey at various levels. At 2 ½ he was in skates, by five he joined Brampton’s U5 select team and played his way up to the U9 team at age eight.
Lam joined the Hurricanes last year.
“It’s been a tough journey, it’s been a fun one,” said Lam, “going up levels, seeing how far I came.”
On the Hurricanes, who finished 31-2-3 this season, he’s surrounded by several players of his calibre, including three other highly ranked OHL prospects.
“When you get put on the ice with them, everything clicks, everything’s way more fun, points come easier,” said Lam.
Lam, who is a quarter Chinese and a quarter Indian, finds added motivation to improve and succeed in his desire to someone others of Asian descent can look up to.
“It’s pretty special, there’s not a lot playing professionally,” said Lam. “It’d be an honour to play for people like that, to show that anybody can play the sport at a high level.”
Lam’s father likes his son’s chances of making a career in the sport.
“I think he can go far because he inherited raw natural athletic skills and it shows up in hockey,” said Ken. “At some point, he has to start bulking up… but I think he can go far because of the passion and the progress he has made. He just looks forward to hockey.”
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Zeno Fu is a student in the Sport Journalism post-grad program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @zeno_fu99