Defenceman Ryan Pilon’s poise with the puck has impressed the Brandon Wheat Kings since he joined the Western Hockey League club in a trade with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
It hasn’t taken Ryan Pilon long to make his mark on the Brandon Wheat Kings blue-line.
The 17-year-old defenceman was acquired from the Lethbridge Hurricanes less than three weeks ago, and by the time he made his home debut on Saturday, Pilon looked like a natural in a Wheat King uniform. He said the chemistry with his teammates built quickly in his first few games.
"You just pick up guys’ tendencies, what they’re about to do, so it definitely does get more comfortable and it’s feeling good now," Pilon said.
"Every coach has a different style of game, different structure-wise, (defensive) zone, neutral zone, everything. We have the puck a lot more here, which is nice. I mean they’ve really brought me in well and taught me the systems, so it’s been fun."
Pilon has a goal and two assists in his seven games since joining the Wheat Kings, giving him four goals and 10 points in 24 contests this season. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound former third overall pick in the Western Hockey League bantam draft has a plus/minus of -1 with the Wheat Kings, but has gone +5 in his last three appearances.
Wheat Kings head coach/general manager Kelly McCrimmon has been "real happy with Ryan’s play."
"He’s an exceptional passer," McCrimmon said. "He has great poise and I think he’s played very well. He’s beeen a real good addition to our team."
"Rene Hunter has been a real good partner for him," McCrimmon continued. "They’ve played together ever since he was traded here, so I think he’s settled in very nicely, probably made the transition quicker than I anticipated."
Pilon made his debut with the Wheat Kings on Nov. 19 in a road victory over the Swift Current Broncos. He’s preparing to face the Eastern Conference-leading Broncos again tonight, but this time they’ll play at Westman Place.
"Here on out until Christmas, every game’s big," Pilon said. "It’s so close in the standings, we need every point we get. We went into their barn and took two from them, so they’re going to be gearing up ready for us. I think we just need to come out and play our game."
With netminder Curtis Honey ready to return from the injury that has kept him out the last 14 games, the Wheat Kings have released Christopher Tai.
Tai, who was acquired from the Hurricanes to back up Jordan Papirny while Honey was out, got into one game with Brandon, allowing one goal in 30 minutes of playing time.
Wheat Kings scoring leader Jayce Hawryluk has been suspended two games under supplemental discipline for the hit that knocked Regina captain Kyle Burroughs out of Brandon’s 5-4 victory over the Pats on Wednesday. Hawryluk wasn’t penalized on the play and the hit led to the Wheat Kings’ second goal.
Lee Jones of CTV Regina tweeted Thursday that Burroughs was going through the league’s concussion protocol and would likely miss the Pats’ game against the Moose Jaw Warriors tonight.
ONE-TIMERS: Former Wheat Kings LW Taylor Cooper, who went to Lethbridge along with D Nick Walters in the Pilon trade, returned to the Hurricanes’ lineup on Wednesday in a 4-1 loss to the Broncos. Cooper suffered a concussion and a shoulder injury when he slammed into the end boards in the first period of his debut with the Hurricanes … Tonight is BMO Ultimate Fan Night, with the winning fan to be entered in a draw for a trip to the 2014 Memorial Cup in London, Ont.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 6, 2013