Taylor Green is a big man looking for a big role with his new team.
The Brandon Wheat Kings acquired the 6-foot-7, 227-pound defenceman from the Seattle Thunderbirds this month. The 18-year-old was squeezed out of Seattle due to a glut of D-men in his age group.
The Wheat Kings are deep in veteran defencemen, but three of them — Ryan Pulock, Eric Roy and Nick Walters — are National Hockey League draft picks and could be gone to the pro ranks as overagers next year, leaving a void that Green would like to fill.
“I think when you’re in an organization for a while you can kinda get trapped into a role,” Green said Friday after taking part in the first scrimmage of Brandon’s main camp.
“Seattle was great. I’ve got nothing bad to say about them, but I’ve got a good opportunity here. Looking forward, we’re going to have a lot of guys leaving next year as well, so there’ll be a bigger role next year and this year, too. Hopefully I can kinda start fresh and carve at a new role.”
Picked by Seattle in the second round of the 2010 Western Hockey League bantam draft, 26th overall, Green played 65 games as a rookie last season, with two goals, five assists, 53 penalty minutes and a plus/minus of -24.
Those aren’t the kind of numbers Green was looking for, but he believes that a better season is on the way now that he has a year under his belt.
“I think it definitely takes a year to get used to the speed of the league and how you have to prepare every game and the work ethic and all that stuff, but I’m definitely ready,” he said.
“Hopefully, I bring a little experience to the blue-line this year and the size. I think I learned a lot last year and I’m ready to have a better year this year.”
Green got a little background info on Brandon from Nick Buonassisi, a fellow native of Port Coquitlam, B.C., who finished his WHL career with the Wheat Kings last season. Green said the scouting reports were positive and he’s been more than happy with what he’s seen since arriving a few days before camp.
“Everybody’s been great to me here,” he said. “The staff, the players, everybody’s made it super-welcoming. The billets are great, it’s been smooth, (and) I’m really excited to be here and get the season going.”
OT HERO: The opening scrimmage of main camp went to overtime, with Wheat King captain Ryan Pulock netting the winning goal as Team Black downed Team Gold 7-6. Rookie Brett Kitt of Brandon scored three times for Black, with Elkhorn rookie Taylor Sanheim, new Latvian import Rihards Bukarts and second-year forward Jayce Hawryluk of Roblin also finding the net for the winners. Sophomore forward Tim McGauley (three goals, one assist) and 2012 first-round bantam pick Braylon Shmyr (one goal, three assists) both had four-point games for Gold.
Meanwhile, in the evening scrimmage, veteran Taylor Cooper had a hat trick to lead Team White to a 5-3 win over Team Gold. Rookie Ryley Lindgren and Czech veteran Richard Nejezchleb also scored for Team White. Veterans John Quenneville and McGauley, along with 15-year-old prospect Nolan Patrick, replied for Gold. Veteran Curtis Honey and rookie Josh Dechaine combined to make 28 saves for White, while Jordan Papirny and Curtis Meger stopped 32 shots for Gold.
ONE-TIMERS: Friday morning’s scrimmage got heated when a pair of 17-year-old sophomores, Hawryluk and Quenneville, dropped the gloves for a brief scrap … G Tyson Verhelst of Brandon made his pre-season debut for Spokane against Portland on Friday. Verhelst entered the game in the second period, and stopped 21 of 23 shots in Spokane’s 6-1 loss.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 31, 2013