Agitator ignites offence

Kyle Kramer named B.C. Hockey League Player of the Week.

Nanaimo Clippers player Kyle Kramer

Nanaimo Clippers player Kyle Kramer

Opponents must hate playing against Kyle Kramer. He’ll chirp at them, maybe run their goalie, check them hard against the end boards.

And this year, he’ll really rub it in by scoring a goal or two, as well.

The B.C. Hockey League’s Player of the Week is putting together his finest season this fall, his third year with the Clippers. Kramer has a team-best 14 goals and 26 points already through 17 games, putting him among the league leaders in those categories.

The statistics suggest the 19-year-old has become a completely different player. He hasn’t.

“He’s still that agitator, he’s still that guy that’s gritty and finishing every check …” said Michael Olson, Clippers assistant coach. “But now he’s able to add the offensive side to it which makes him more of a difficult player to play against, definitely.”

The alternate captain doesn’t think his game has really changed except that he’s tried to adopt more of a shoot-first mentality in the attacking zone.

That mindset, combined with first-liner minutes, has turned him into a primary contributor.

“I’ve been given a pretty big role on the team…” Kramer said. “Any player you ask, they’d say they thrive on the pressure and the opportunity to be out in key moments – the last minute of the periods, the power plays and penalty kills.”

Kramer has earned those minutes. Olson said the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder from Qualicum Beach is a determined player who never stops working on fundamentals and puts in the work in the off-season.

“Success always comes with hard work and I live by that every day,” Kramer said.

Right now his success is leading to team success, which he hopes in turn will help attract NCAA scouts.

In the meantime, it’s fun to be playing such a leading role with the Clippers, Kramer said, especially since he believes this year’s team is the best one he’s been a part of.

“There’s no doubt, just with the strides we’ve made so far and we’re only a quarter of the way through the season,” he said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but if we can tighten up and perfect every aspect of our game we’re going to be there at the end.”

And if the Clippers can keep winning games and Kramer can keep doing his thing, then opposing players aren’t going to have much fun at all.

“I think it’s my jokes, I don’t think they like my jokes too much …” Kramer said. “I think I’ve got a pretty competitive edge and that’s not the funnest thing to play against sometimes.”

GAME ON … The Clippers play the Powell River Kings on the road Friday (Nov. 11) at 7:30 p.m. and the teams play a rematch Saturday, also at 7:30 p.m. at Powell River. For a preview of those games, please click here.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com