Barely a month past his 17th birthday and with a mere 29 games under his belt, Colton Sissons is a long way from being a seasoned Western Hockey League player.
Yet, when it comes to his pure hockey sense and understanding of the game, his coaches think the Kelowna Rockets rookie could easily be mistaken for a wily veteran.
“I think he’s one of the most intelligent players on our team and he really has a good grasp of the game,” said Rockets assistant coach Ryan Cuthbert. “He puts himself in good spots and he knows where to go on the ice. He always prepares the right way and he asks questions, even the day before games. He’s an easy guy to coach and he goes about his business.”
His skill, his ability in reading the ice, and his knack for playing a solid positional game has led to plenty of ice time for the North Vancouver product.
Through 28 games, Sissons had six goals and five assists, while getting an opportunity to play in all situations.
As for his ability to read the ice and analyze the game, Sissons can’t be sure where it originates. What he does know is that they are valuable assets.
“I think you can develop it somewhat from watching a lot of hockey and a lot of videos, but I think for most guys who are good at it, it’s pretty natural thing,” said Sissons, who the Rockets acquired from the Saskatoon Blades last season in exchange for Curt Gogol. “I don’t know why, but it’s just been one of the upsides of my game as long as I can remember. I have a certain alertness on the ice, and sometimes I can sort of see the play before it happens. It helps me a lot when I’m out there.”
As a WHL rookie, the Rockets aren’t necessarily expecting huge numbers from Sissons this season. The club will be happy if the 6-foot-0 172 pound winger simply continues to develop at the same rate he has to date.
Ditto for Sissons, who isn’t as concerned with stats as much as he is with establishing himself as an impact player and a reliable member of the Kelowna Rockets.
“I don’t really have a set point total, I just want to make a difference when I’m out there,” said Sissons, who played last season with the BCHL’s Westside Warriors. “I want to be a difference-maker, not just a guy filling a basic role. I want to become a big key to the team.”
If Sissons does indeed continue to progress, chances are good he’ll earn oodles of attention from professional scouts over the next 1 1/2 seasons.
Not eligible until the 2012 NHL entry draft due his late birthday, Sissons will have plenty of time to hone his game with an organization that has earned a reputation for churning out big-league prospects.
“The way I look at it is that this year I can just work hard, do my thing, and show that I can play,” said Sissons. “Then next year, my second year, I’ll be more comfortable here and really be ready to take my game to the next level.
“It’s going great so far,” he added. “The coaches have shown a lot of confidence in me and I don’t think there’s any better place to learn.”
Rocket Shots…The Rockets’ eastern swing continues Wednesday night in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes, then wraps up Friday in Calgary…Kelowna’s next home action is Tuesday, Dec. 28 against the Everett Silvertips.