March 15, 2009
Kyle Reynolds has a lot of friends in hockey. He grew up in Sylvan Lake and is a close friend of Brandon Sutter. He knows the Russell brothers from Caroline. He played Midget AAA hockey on a powerhouse team in Red Deer with Nick Bell, Marc Boulanger and Corey Campbell. But he is taking his own path up the hockey ladder. While Sutter is trying to break in as a regular with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and Kris Russell is playing in the NHL with Columbus, Reynolds has found a home with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. It’s a happy home and Reynolds is glad to be there. And as he looks around the Oiler dressing room, he sees Bell’s stall and another one belonging to Rodger Craig who also came out of the Red Deer program.
Of course, if he walked down the corridor to the dressing room of the Olds Grizzlies, he’d also find stalls belonging to Boulanger and to Campbell, both of whom are integral parts of the Grizzlies drive to win the AJHL title. Right now, the long time friends are keeping their distance because they are locked in a tense seven game series. .
“It’s going to be a long tough series because our styles are similar,” Reynolds noted. “I think they beat us four of the six times we played this season. We’re going to have to be strong in our own end and chip pucks out of the zone off the wall. And we have to move the puck with speed which I think is something we do well.”
It’s a style of play that suits Reynolds very well. The 5’9, 160 lb left winger isn’t shy about playing along the boards or going to the heavy traffic areas in front of the net. It’s how he’s been able to produce 20+ goals in his first season in the league. It’s why he regularly finds his name in the penalty area of the scoresheet, not just in the columns for goals and assists.
“He’s been a good addition to our lineup,” his coach, Dan MacDonald, told me. “He’s part of a real good group that joined our program this season. And he’ll be back for another season before, hopefully, he gets an NCAA scholarship.”
That’s Reynolds’ game plan. He’s finished Grade 12 and is spending this season working on his game. He also helps out at a hockey school in Black Diamond where he has to take what he knows and translate it into something the youngsters in his class can understand. What he’s learned about the game is thanks in large part to his decision to join the Oilers, a decision which was made two seasons before he arrived.
“I was here as a 15 year old and came back at age 16,” he told me. “I didn’t make the team so I went back and played Midget AAA in Red Deer. But I’ve always been impressed with the coaching and the way the Oilers’ organization operates. “I’ve learned a lot and I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent here and the players I’m playing with. I want to come back and have another good season next year. And hopefully, I’ll be able to earn a scholarship and get my education paid for after next season. There are a couple of schools interested. I’d like to play as long as I can. But if things don’t work out on the ice, at least I’ll have a good education to fall back on for the rest of my life.”
By Peter Watts