WINNIPEG – Brenden Kichton’s path to the pros hasn’t been the smoothest.
The defenceman was forced to re-enter the NHL draft after failing to sign with the New York Islanders. Luckily for Kichton, Winnipeg gave him a second chance by picking him 190th overall in 2013.
“You don’t see many guys get drafted at 21,” said Kichton. “There was definitely a lot of motivation coming into the Jets organization. I proved that in my first year, proved some doubters wrong.”
Kichton put up 48 points in 76 games with the St. John’s IceCaps as a rookie. Adversity though struck the Albertan once again during his sophomore season. A puck broke Kichton’s jaw in a practice last December when it hit him in the face marking the second time in his career that he’s suffered such an injury.
“It’s one of the tougher injuries,” said Kichton who also broke his jaw while playing major junior hockey with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. “You can’t eat, you can’t do anything. It’s a very mentally tough injury to come back from.”
But also physically. Kichton lost 21 pounds, a little more than ten per cent of his playing weight, while recovering.
“I didn’t feel like the same player the second half of the year,” said Kichton. “I didn’t feel like I had the jump or strength.”
To get back into shape, Kichton kicked up his training over the summer. And it’s already paying off. Kichton is currently on pace for a new personal best in AHL goals scored.
“He’s a real strong piece for our lineup on the back-end,” said Moose head coach Keith McCambridge. “He’s somebody we need to be on top of his game and continue to play the way he is.”
A level of compete Kichton hopes one day catches the eye of the big club.