As Surrey’s Arshdeep Bains skates his way from junior hockey to pro, a film crew is following his progress as one of the WHL’s leading scorers, for a new movie focused on South Asian hockey players.
With Red Deer Rebels, the 21-year-old winger has 71 points this season, good for second among the league’s top point-producers, as of Wednesday (Feb. 23), with teammate Ben King just a few points behind him in WHL scoring.
Bains is now in his fifth year with the Alberta team, 238 games in, after moving up from the major-midget Valley West Hawks (now Giants) midway through the 2017-18 season.
“I’ve been in the league for a long time now,” Bains confirmed in a phone call, “and it’s been good learning every year, getting better every year. I kept improving every year so I knew I could be this player, a player I’m trying to become, and I’m trying to get better still. I am proud of myself that I accomplished this so far, but there’s still a lot of season left to go.”
🎥HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT🎥
— The WHL (@TheWHL) February 19, 2022
Once again a phenomenal performance tonight by LSE client and Red Deer Rebels forward @20_bains on being named first star of the game v. the Saskatoon Blades w two goals and two assists. NHL teams are taking serious notice of Arshdeep’s play. #NHL #WHL pic.twitter.com/t6eq3lQdD2
— Harkie Singh (@HarkieSingh) February 19, 2022
Not drafted by a NHL team, and now in his final season of junior hockey, Bains is playing hard to earn himself an invitation to a pro-team camp this coming summer.
“I’m just trying to get my foot in the door and see if I can create an opportunity as an over-ager, so we’ll see how things happen, but I’m pretty excited,” Bains asserted. “My agent’s been doing most of the work and he says things are good, so I just keep playing my game and let the rest handle itself.”
Meantime, the former Surrey Minor Hockey player is among four main characters being filmed for a documentary called “Out of the Stands,” due out this fall.
Co-directed and produced by Baljit Sangra and Nilesh Patel, the movie’s goal is to offer “an intimate look at junior hockey through the eyes of four South Asian players as they struggle to find success in Canada’s national sport.”
In addition to Bains, the other featured players are Surrey-born Arvin Atwal (now playing pro in Slovakia), Richmond-raised Kayden Sadhra-Kang (with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos) and a second Richmondite, 16-year-old Arjun Bawa (BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals). The film will also feature interviews with former Surrey Minor Hockey president Harbs Bains, who is now managing Lake Cowichan Kraken, new to the 11-team Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL).
For Bains, the movie-making experience has been fun.
“It’s been really good, and it can maybe help spread the word that South Asians can play at a high level of hockey and that hockey really is for everyone, so it’s for a good cause,” Bains suggested. “They’ve been to a few games to get their video and stuff, and it’s cool to see that from a different perspective.”
Online, a three-minute trailer is posted to outofthestands.com, along with player biographies and other details about the film.
Through the pandemic, Bains has discovered a more cerebral game that challenges him: chess.
“I’ve been learning chess a lot, that’s the main thing outside of hockey,” Bains explained as he drove home from a Rebels practice. “That’s my hobby at home – with COVID and everything, that’s what I picked up on. I play online, and watch videos, learn stuff. Pretty bored, I learned the game and now I’m kind of addicted.”
With WHL playoffs set to begin April 22, almost two months from now, Bains hopes to help drive the Rebels to the national Memorial Cup tournament, to be played from June 20-29 this season, which has been crippled by COVID at times.
“I believe our team can get it done during the playoffs coming up, and I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position to this point, so far,” Bains said. “We’re a good, hard-working team and I think we’re playoff-ready.”