Vegas native Atchison learning, developing in WHL rookie season
Last summer when the Spokane Chiefs signed Erik Atchison to a Western Hockey League (WHL) contract, Chiefs GM Scott Carter said the Las Vegas native impressed him at the team’s training camp to the point where signing the 2002 birth year was the only option.
And now in the home stretch of the season, Atchison has seen to it that Carter made the right move.
“From a personal standpoint, the season has been great, but I want to get more points on the board,” Atchison said. “From a team standpoint, we have a fantastic great group of guys and a great team.”
Atchison was originally selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round (94th overall) of the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
As a talented American player, Atchison had to decide at a young age if he wanted to pursue the NCAA route or take the Major Junior path with Spokane.
In choosing Spokane, Atchison said he has zero regrets.
“I really just loved the pro style of the WHL,” said Atchison. “I liked how many games they play there, how much it’s like the NHL and how good the players are in the league. I’ve definitely improved on systems and just about everything else. The speed and level of practice is why that has happened, for sure.”
A graduate of the Las Vegas Outlaws and Storm programs back home, Atchison also developed with the Arizona Bobcats AAA program in the Phoenix area.
“Hockey has grown like crazy in Vegas,” Atchison said. “The teams are way better than they were when I played there.”
It was in Nevada, however, that Atchison got the itch to get on the ice.
“My dad (Kevin) was watching a Pittsburgh Penguins game and I said, ‘I want to do that,’” remembered Atchison. “Then I started skating and just loved scoring goals. That’s what got me hooked.”
Down the line, Atchison has lofty goals in mind.
“Short term would probably to be a 20-goal scorer in the WHL and be a main guy and long term, I want to play in the NHL,” Atchison said.
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 25, 2019)