If one were searching for one word to describe Hershey Bears forward Kyle Wilson on the ice, flashy would not be that word; however, one word that definitely fits Wilson to a tee is ‘consistent’, something he has been since his impressive debut as a Bear against the Manitoba Moose at Giant Center, when he scored a pair of goals, including the game-winning goal.
Not unexpectedly, the steady Wilson, now standing 6’0” and weighing in at 200 lbs., not huge by current NHL standards, patterned his game during his youth hockey days after a player with similar physical characteristics.
“Growing up, I was surprisingly a pretty small guy and I really didn’t grow until high school,” said Wilson by phone on Thursday. “I always loved watching Joe Sakic play; he was always so creative with the puck. Every time he would score a great goal, I would go and try to do it in practice the next day.”
Wilson was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the 2004 NHL draft, one slot ahead of the Buffalo Sabres’ 273rd pick, Dylan Hunter, son of Washington Capitals’ legend, Dale Hunter. As with any decision Wilson makes on the ice, a lot of thought was put into his decision to choose college over the Canadian junior ranks.
“Playing through juniors and whatnot, you always see the coaches and guys who were
great players, but they had their injuries and couldn’t make it and had nothing to fall back on,” said Wilson, a native of Oakville, Ontario. “I had really good grades in high school and my parents were obviously pushing me to get an education. I was given a great opportunity to go to Colgate and it was hard to pass up.”
Not only did Wilson earn his degree in Physics at Colgate University, but he also put up impressive numbers on the ice during his senior year, leading the team in scoring with 41 points, and earning second team ECACHL All-Conference honors.
After failing to stick with the San Antonio Rampage at the beginning of his rookie season, Wilson was dispatched to the South Carolina Stingrays for a brief stint before being called up to Hershey in December 2006.
“San Antonio gave me an opportunity but they really didn’t have room for me and they put me on the wing. Any player getting called up for the first time to a new team, you just have to try and keep it simple and work as hard as you can and hopefully, your instincts take over,” said Wilson.
He continued, “When Hershey called me up, they put me at center and they gave me a couple of good wingers right off the bat and basically said, here is your shot, show what you can do, and it’s worked out for me. I ran into a great situation here in Hershey and they really helped me and taught me a lot, and that really benefited me and made me the player that I am.”
Wilson, who scored nearly a point per game in Hershey’s 2006-07 Calder Cup Finals, has seen his numbers drop significantly in this year’s playoffs, primarily due to his increased responsibilities in his own zone.
“I’m definitely a lot better defensive player now. Woody has shown confidence in me by putting me in a lot more defensive situations than before. Whatever it takes to win, that’s what you have to do and hopefully I can contribute more in this series.”
The location of Wilson’s future contributions is unknown, as he heads into Restricted Free Agency this summer. For now, though, Wilson, like his teammates, is focused on attaining the four more wins needed for a Calder Cup Championship.
“I’ll figure all that out at the end of the year after the season is over. The ball is in their (Washington’s) court. I’d love to get an opportunity to get some NHL time, but I love it here in Hershey, and it’s obviously a great place to play. It’s gotten me to the Calder Cup Finals twice.”