Williamson finds comfort zone with hometown club
Lure of playing for Canucks precipitated ex-WHLer’s decision to join AJHL club
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.