Thursday, 9 September 2010

Kuczek Looking to Rumble Into Blueline Spot

Dylan Kuczek is one of eight rookies trying to earn a permanent place on the Brandon Wheat Kings' blueline.

The 16-year old Winnipeg product was Brandon's second round pick (40th overall) in the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft and has already earned the reputation of being a rough-and-tumble defenceman.

"I'm a bigger guy for my age so I like to be physical and, here-and-there, get dirty and stuff," says the 6-foot-1, 206 pound Kuczek, "I'm not afraid to fight, I just play my game and be a defensive player."

Kuczek spent the 2009-2010 season with the Winnipeg Sharks in the Winnipeg Midget City League after being controversially cut from the AAA Midget Winnipeg Thrashers last fall.

He finished the year with 12 goals, 34 points and 86 penalty minutes in 33 games.
"I took it kind of hard on myself after I got cut from the Thrashers and what-not," says Kuczek, "But, in the second half of the season, I just brushed it off my shoulders and went out and played my game and everything went well."

Kuczek was a member of Team Manitoba at the inaugural Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup last October and is one of 29 Manitoba players still being considered for Team West for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge this December in Winnipeg.

"I've been training five days a week with a personal training I have back in Winnipeg and it's paid off quite a bit," says Kuczek, "If you're not conditioned then you're obviously not going to be a good hockey player so you have to be prepared."

Kuczek adds he's fully aware of the openings available on the Wheat Kings' blueline but will still have to 'bust his butt' to earn a spot.

Brandon is slated to open their pre-season schedule Friday night in Regina before hosting the Pats on Saturday.

Chaff...G Liam Liston (hamstring) missed practice again on Thursday and has now been sidelined for a week...also absent from Wheat Kings' practice Thursday were F Jon Gaudet (groin), F Dakota Conroy (asthma attack) and D Darren Bestland (doctor's appointment) while Brayden Schenn, Scott Glennie, Mark Stone and Michael Ferland have left for NHL training camps...D Brodie Melnychuk heads to Anaheim Friday while F David Toews head to the NY Islanders camp on Saturday...the CHL announced on Wednesday that the 2011 Top Prospects Game will be held at the Air Canada Centre Toronto on January 19...The Canadian Hockey League has unveiled its brand new online network complete with 64 revamped league and team websites including the Brandon Wheat Kings (www.wheatkings.com)...there were four WHL teams in first CHL rankings of season, which were announced Thursday. Portland is #3, Tri-City #6, Saskatoon #8 and Red Deer is #10.

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