Wil­liamson finds com­fort zone with home­town club

Lure of play­ing for Canucks pre­cip­i­tated ex-WHLer’s de­ci­sion to join AJHL club

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - LAU­RENCE HEINEN

When Dy­lan Wil­liamson re­ceived the call to play for his home­town Calgary Canucks in the AJHL, he couldn’t turn down the of­fer.

Af­ter start­ing last sea­son with the WHL’s Prince Al­bert Raiders, Wil­liamson de­cided he would rather go the Ju­nior A route.

“I had a cou­ple teams con­tact me, some in B.C. and some here (in Al­berta),” said the 19-yearold, who got to know the num­ber of Canucks pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager Pat Loyer off by heart. “He called me about four or five times. He was very per­sis­tent. He got me right when he said I could play in my home­town. That was an easy de­ci­sion.”

Play­ing for the Calgary Ban­tam AAA Bisons in 2012-13, Wil­liamson racked up 23 goals and 18 as­sists in 30 games and was sub­se­quently se­lected by the Raiders in the fourth round of the 2013 WHL Ban­tam Draft.

He went on to score three goals and add four helpers in 60 games dur­ing his rookie cam­paign with the Raiders in 2015-16 be­fore record­ing one goal in eight games last year.

“I played in Prince Al­bert for a year and a half,” re­called the six­foot-two, 180-pound for­ward, who notched 11 goals and 13 as­sists in 37 games for the Canucks last sea­son. “That was pretty fun. It didn’t work out for me, but now I’m play­ing here and I’ve never had a more fun ex­pe­ri­ence.”

In 16 games this fall, Wil­liamson has regis­tered 11 goals and seven as­sists to lead the Canucks in scor­ing.

“Right now I’ve just been get­ting lucky some­what,” he said. “I’ve had a great start to the sea­son.”

Un­for­tu­nately for Wil­liamson and his Canucks (7-8-1), that great start came to an abrupt halt af­ter an ugly 8-1 loss to the Lloydminster Bob­cats (5-14-0) Sun­day at Max Bell Cen­tre’s Ken Bracko Arena.

“We’ve got to stop tak­ing the bot­tom teams lighter,” sur­mised Wil­liamson. “We’re not even a top team, so I think we’ve just got to fo­cus on our­selves and then we’ll be all right. We have a team that can win a cham­pi­onship. We’ve just got to put it all to­gether.”

Coach Colin Birkas would like to see Wil­liamson as­sume more of a lead­er­ship role with the Canucks.

“He’s a very good player,” said Birkas. “As he plays, so goes the team. I didn’t think he was very good in the first pe­riod and nei­ther was the team. At the end, we pressed and pressed and threw pucks at the net and got to the net. He was a big rea­son we were do­ing that.

“As he ma­tures and un­der­stands how much com­mand he has of our team, hope­fully he takes that and runs with that. Right now, I don’t think he has an un­der­stand­ing of how im­por­tant he is to the group.”

The Canucks will look to get back on track when they play a home­and-home se­ries against the Olds Griz­zlys (5-11-1) next week­end start­ing with a game Fri­day (7 p.m.) at Ken Bracko Arena.

“We dis­re­spected them the last time we played them,” warned Birkas, re­fer­ring to a 7-5 road loss to the Griz­zlys Sept. 24. “If we play a team be­low us in the stand­ings, we’re too good to work hard. It’s a prob­lem. I’m not sure how I’m go­ing to ad­dress it.”

Team cap­tain Kyler New­man, who played for the Fort McMur­ray Oil Barons last sea­son, said he and his team­mates should pre­pare them­selves for a tough week of prac­tices.

“We’re go­ing to pay for it, as we should,” said the 20-year-old de­fence­man.

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