ROCKFORD — When the Blackhawks sent down Alec Regula in mid-November, he was mired in bad headspace.

During the summer, knowing he was entering the final year of his three-year entry-level contract, the 22-year-old defenseman put the pressure on himself to make it to the NHL full-time. He insists it wasn’t really stressing him out, but it was definitely on his mind.

When he made the Hawks’ starting NHL roster and played 17-plus minutes on opening night against the Avalanche, things were going as expected, and he set his self-expectations even higher.

But ahead of him nothing went the way he had imagined. He was healthy in three consecutive Hawks games, was sent to Rockford, played four AHL games, was recalled to the NHL, dressed in only three of seven games (in which he went 3–0 and was shut out 32–16). Done. five-on-five) and then returned to Rockford.

By the end of that rollercoaster, he wasn’t sure what to think, but his thoughts weren’t positive.

“I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think I played my best in the beginning,” Regula said on Wednesday. “But that said, I felt like I was in a tough spot. I was in and out. Obviously you have to find your confidence, but I wasn’t being given much. I did what I could. [I was] Came down a bit disappointed.

Along with Rockford coach Anders Sorensen and assistant Jared Nightingale, some familiar teammates from the previous two seasons, Regula noticed that he was not acting like his usual self. He reminded him of his past successes and urged him to just play hockey and believe that doing so would bring out the best in him.

Regula took that advice to heart. Two months later, her mental journey has put her in much healthier territory.

“Obviously, I really wanted to play in the NHL, and I still do,” he said. “But I was a little bit in my own way, just worrying about things I couldn’t control. I don’t want to say it’s completely on the back-burner now, but I’m actually more concerned about it.” Doesn’t think

,[I’m] I’m having fun I fell in love with having fun in sports. My fondest memories of hockey are when I am enjoying myself and enjoying being around a team. I was definitely very nervous, and now I’m just enjoying it and having fun. I…find my love here again.”

Regula has rediscovered offensive form through his 2021-22 AHL breakout season, scoring six points in his last three games to improve his season-to-date totals to 15 points in 24 games Is. He’s one of the many reasons why the surging IceHogs moved into second place in the AHL’s Central Division Wednesday with a 19-10-3 record.

And on the defensive end, Regula hasn’t adopted a patient mindset unlike his new off-ice mindset.

,[I’m no longer] Trying to be a hero out there,” he said. “Some great defencemen, they let the game come to them. Sometimes I would just be all over the place – trying to kill every play, trying to stop every puck – and it could throw you out of position. I’ve done a good job of holding my lanes, staying on my side and letting it come to me. It has worked for me.

Sorensen and Nightingale have been giving Regula a “nudge” to improve defensively, knowing that is the key to him getting the future NHL opportunities he seeks.

The Hawks’ prospect defenseman corps is crowded, but by no means has the organization forgotten about him or given up on him. However, it’s probably best for her not to worry about it right now.

“He could be a really good NHL player,” Sorensen said. “It’s about finding out what kind of player he’s going to be.”

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