With just a week remaining before the B.C. Hockey League trade deadline, the Victoria Grizzlies have made a move to bolster their blueline.
The Grizzlies have welcomed Parksville product Kade Pilton back to the Island and the 18-year-old former Victoria Royals and Regina Pats defenceman is looking forward to getting back and having fun with the game he loves.
“It feels awesome. I can’t wait to get back on the ice,” the six-foot-five, 205-pound rearguard said prior to joining his first practice Thursday with the Grizzlies, finally getting his release and equipment from the Pats, who he left in mid-December.
“In junior hockey, there are a lot of ups and downs. This is just another change and it’s a change for the better, in my opinion. I think I fit in well here, with a lot of good friends and I know the coaching staff pretty well, too, so I think it’s going to be great.”
Pilton is hoping to play in his first game as a Grizzly, possibly tonight at 7:15 against Nanaimo and, if not, then Sunday at 1 p.m. against Powell River. Both games are at Bear Mountain Arena.
In mid-September, Pilton was traded from the Royals to Regina for the rights to prospect Demico Hannoun and a conditional third-round Western Hockey League draft pick in 2014.
Pilton had two goals and an assist in limited time in 27 games with the Pats playing both defence and forward. He had expressed his displeasure in his role with the club and left the team last month.
“That was my choice,” he said. “It was based on the role I was playing and the type of player that I am kind of clashed. I figured I needed bigger minutes in a different role.
“I want to compete right away and I feel I have a lot to give. I love being back here in Victoria. I had no idea I would originally be traded, but it can happen at any time to anybody, so I guess it’s not that big of a surprise.”
So he intends on getting back on the ice and having fun, the way the game was intended to be.
“We want to win this year and I think we have a shot here,” Pilton said of the Grizzlies. “You’ve got to have fun, it is just a game and I’m looking forward to having some fun again.”
Grizzlies general manager and head coach Bill Bestwick is glad to have Pilton as he will bring his roster number up to the limit of 22 players allowed by the Jan. 10 deadline.
“They [the Pats] gave him permission to skate with us, unfortunately his equipment had not arrived so that he could engage with us,” said Bestwick. “But Kade has chosen to play in our league for us, which we are thrilled about.
“He certainly brings a level of improved skill on our back end, combined with size. Often you have size that doesn’t necessarily have the skill with it. I think his desire and will to want to be part of something special, near home, is a factor for us.
“And he gives us a tremendous amount of option and depth on the back end. When you have a player like that come available, you need to react and, hopefully, positively.”
Meanwhile, Bestwick still is looking into deals throughout the BCHL.
“You always think that you have to plan for a long run, not a short run. In order to get to the long run, you have to win short battles,” he said. “The more arsenal you have, the longer you can play.”
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