With a quick, hard and accurate shot from the point, Myles Bell was one of the Kelowna Rockets’ most dangerous offensive weapons during the 2011-12 Western Hockey League campaign.
Add in an extra year of experience, a summer of hard work, and a clean bill of health, and the Rockets’ coaching staff expects the Calgary-born rearguard will cast even more fear into opposing goalies this season.
“He’s come into camp in absolute great shape,” said Kelowna assistant coach Dan Lambert. “In my opinion he looks really good and he’s skating very well. So we’re expecting some big things out of Myles Bell, he’s a guy who can do some great things offensively for us. He has a better shot than a lot of pros do.
“He’s a nice kid who wants to get better and with how hard he worked this summer definitely shows that.”
With the departure of Tyson Barrie to the pro ranks last September, the Rockets acquired Bell from the Regina Pats to address some offensive needs along the blue line.
Despite missing 18 games with injury, the 6-foot 202-pound defenceman responded with 15 goals and 41 points.
Now fully healthy, fully comfortable in Rockets colours, and in the best shape of his life, Bell hopes to push his game to another level in 2012-13.
And as much he’s like to be even more productive offensively, Bell insists teams goals are first and foremost.
“Winning…winning is No 1,” Bell said. “If points come, they come, that’s great. If they don’t and we’re still winning it doesn’t matter to me.
“I had a pretty good summer, so I’m looking forward to doing whatever I can to help the team.”
While the Rockets are confident Bell will deliver the goods offensively this season, the club is pushing the Calgary product to tighten up the defensive side of his game.
With the proper work and attention, Dan Lambert expects Bell—who was -18 last season— will make that happen.
“Defensively, I think there’s going to be some good things coming,” Lambert said of Bell’s play in his own end of the rink. “He’s got some work to do. But as long as he commits to it, he’s a strong man that can skate very well, so he’s capable of playing some very good D for us.”
Just days past his 19th birthday, Bell is by no means a grizzled veteran of the hockey wars.
But now in his fourth season in the WHL, and on a team where at least 80 per cent of the roster was born after him, Bell is expecting to assume a much more active leadership role.
“I definitely feel old,” Bell said with a laugh. “The young guys keep reminding me.”
“Hopefully I’m somebody our younger guys can look up to this year. It was a little different coming into a new team last season. It’s hard to be vocal, especially with the voices we had in the room already. So last year I just quietly did my thing, this year I think it’ll be a different story.”
And while the Rockets would like Bell’s voice to be heard more often around the dressing room, Lambert said it’s equally important for his play to do the talking.
“Hopefully he’ll lead by example and that’s what a lot of good players do,” Lambert said. “They let their work and everything else do the talking. Myles is very capable of leading that way.”
And for Bell’s part, he’s never looked forward to a hockey season more than the 2012-13 edition with the Kelowna Rockets.
“Last year coming in right the end of training camp, it was kind of hard to get excited, not knowing the guys and everything,” he said. “I’m definitely more excited coming in this year, than I was even my first two years in Regina. I know we have a good team here and there’s going to be lots of wins to follow.”