Quick draw

Filip Ryd­strom does a lot of things well, in­clud­ing win­ning face­offs.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

Filip Ryd­strom is bring­ing a lot to the ta­ble in his se­cond sea­son with the Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders.

The 19-year-old Swedish cen­tre has nearly dou­bled last year’s point to­tal through the same num­ber of games while re­main­ing one of the team’s most re­li­able play­ers in his own zone.

“He’s a big body and when he’s bang­ing and crash­ing he’s very ef­fec­tive,” head coach Jim Hulton said Thurs­day.

While his de­fen­sive game was known from last sea­son, Ryd­strom has shown the abil­ity to chip in more of­fence this sea­son.

He has 15 goals and 22 as­sists in 48 games.

He has played on the power play and cen­tred the top line for stretches of the sea­son fol­low­ing Kameron Kielly’s in­jury and Filip Ch­lapik’s trip to the world ju­nior cham­pi­onship.

“When Kam got in­jured and Ch­lap was gone for a while (the staff) told me you have a chance here to prove your­self and I did my best,” Ryd­strom said.

He pointed to feel­ing more com­fort­able on and off the ice in Year 2 in Canada for the im­proved pro­duc­tiv­ity, but also see­ing more ice time.

“He re­ally blos­somed this year, and I think a lot has to do with his con­fi­dence,” Hulton said. “He car­ried us for a long stretch of time.”

A com­po­nent of Ryd­strom’s game that makes him so valu­able to the Isles is his prow­ess in the face­off cir­cle.

The cen­tre has won 519 of his 886 draws (58.6 per cent).

“He’s ar­guable one of the top­five face­off guys in the league,” Hulton said. “It’s a hid­den el­e­ment that a lot of fans may not ap­pre­ci­ate, but coaches sure do be­cause pos­ses­sion is ev­ery­thing in our game.”

Ryd­strom takes pride when he skates into the cir­cle.

“I think it’s a re­ally im­por­tant part of hockey,” he said.

He wasn’t tip­ping his hand to the se­cret of his suc­cess other than at­tribut­ing it to a lot of prac­tice and work­ing with cen­tres like Kielly.

Ryd­strom has skated with a va­ri­ety of wingers this sea­son. Lately it has been Oliver Cooper and Bradley Kennedy.

The coach­ing staff en­vi­sions it be­ing a line that can grind teams down low, sim­i­lar to how Ryd­strom, Cooper and Ross John­ston did last sea­son.

Cooper said Ryd­strom is a key com­po­nent to the Is­lan­ders lineup.

“He’s a guy we rely on to shut other team’s top lines down,” he said. “We’re lucky to have him.”

The line will likely see one of the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League’s top lines tonight when the Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Ea­gles come to town for a 7 p.m. con­test at the Eastlink Cen­tre. The teams also play Satur­day at 7 p.m. in Char­lot­te­town.

The Scream­ing Ea­gles have scored 196 goals, the fourth most in the league. They have snipers like Evgeny Svech­nikov, Maxim Lazarev, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Michael Joly, Clark Bishop and Massimo Carozza.

“This is a good test this week­end be­cause we don’t want to start trad­ing rushes with the high-pow­ered of­fence of Cape Bre­ton,” Hulton said.

It was not known Thurs­day if Dubois would be avail­able tonight af­ter play­ing in the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospect Game in Van­cou­ver.

The Is­lan­ders (19-22-5-2) are chas­ing the Scream­ing Ea­gles (24-20-4-1) and know they have to take care of busi­ness in the head-to-head meet­ings if they want to catch their divi­sion ri­val.

Ryd­strom is look­ing for to this week­end’s game and noted his par­ents are in town to see the games. They were at Thurs­day’s prac­tice.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Filip Ryd­strom is hav­ing a good se­cond sea­son with the Char­lot­te­town Is­lan­ders.

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