Klarc Wilson returned to Brandon on Saturday as a member of the Cougars. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
After a long wait, Klarc Wilson got to say goodbye on the weekend to the city where his Western Hockey League career started.
A former first-round bantam draft pick of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Wilson had a goal and an assist as his Prince George Cougars fell 6-3 in his first visit to the Wheat City in two seasons.
Traded by the Wheat Kings to the Edmonton Oil Kings for Brent Raedeke midway through his rookie campaign of 2009-10, Wilson made periodic visits to Brandon with his new team, including the 2012 playoffs when the Oil Kings swept the Wheat Kings on their way to the WHL title. But he was traded to Prince George last year before the Oil Kings played their first game in Brandon, and the Cougars didn’t play here at all last season.
"It’s kind of weird coming back," Wilson said. "You think back to a few memories and you kinda reminisce and think that this is where it all started."
"When you’re 16 it feels like you’ve got a long time left but when you’re my age now, you blink and you’re in your last few games here," said the 20-year-old Edmonton native, who will graduate from the WHL this season. "It goes by quick, but I’m just trying to make the best of it here with my last few games."
While the Cougars, who sit ninth in the Western Conference at 19-26-2-5, haven’t been close to equalling the highs the Oil Kings reached while he was in Edmonton, Wilson is still making the most of his final WHL season. Cast mainly in an energy/tough guy role in Edmonton, the 6-foot-1, 206-pound right-winger is finally getting a chance to show his scoring touch this season in Prince George. Playing frequently with Todd Fiddler since the sniper was acquired from the Moose Jaw Warriors, Wilson has already blown away his previous career scoring highs, by notching 20 goals and assisting on 25 others in 52 games, while picking up 71 penalty minutes.
"I’ve been playing with (Fiddler) pretty much since he got traded to us," said Wilson, who has nine goals and 10 assists in 12 games this month. "He’s a been a great help. He produces a lot, he’s easy to play with. Give him the puck and he’ll probably score 80 per cent of the time from anywhere. It’s his last year as well, so I know he wants to make playoffs just as bad as I do. So we kind of feed off each other with that and we’ve been playing well together, and hopefully we can put some wins together."
Undrafted in the National Hockey League, Wilson has attended training camps with the Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers and he hopes that the side of his game he’s been able to show this season will open doors for him down the road.
"I showed that I could play the physical role and the energy role and the fighting role and now I’m getting a chance to show my offensive side as well," he said. "I mean I’m hoping that teams at the next level are seeing that I can be a complete player and I can play any role they put me in."
AROUND THE WHL: Portland C Brendan Leipsic is the WHL’s player of the week after posting three goals, six assists and a stellar plus/minus of +9 in three games … Red Deer’s Patrik Bartosak is the CHL goalie of the week. He went 3-0 with two shutouts, posting a 0.67 goals-against average and a .984 save percentage last week for the Rebels, who host the Wheat Kings tonight … Moose Jaw C Sam Fioretti has been suspended three games under supplemental discipline for an incident Saturday vs. Kootenay.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 29, 2014