By Dave Leaderhouse
WEYBURN RED WINGS, LW
It’s a pretty safe bet that no one saw this coming, but there was a slight hint of what was to come during last spring’s playoffs.
Weyburn Red Wing forward Ben Hiltz shares the team lead in scoring with 43 points in 37 games and what makes that so remarkable is the 18-year-old homegrown product only had eight points in 43 games in his rookie campaign a year ago.
The 6-foot-2, 176-pound Hiltz, has more points – nine – in his last seven games than he did all of last year and as a result has the Red Wings challenging rival Estevan for top spot in the Viterra Division standings.
As mentioned earlier, while his numbers were low during last year’s regular season he picked up a goal and two assists in seven post-season matches to offer a glimpse of what might be lurking around the corner.
Prior to joining the Red Wings, Hiltz spent one season with the Battlefords Stars of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Again, while his 23 points in 42 games were very respectable, they certainly never indicated he could be among the SJHL leaders in such a short time. However, he did average more than a point per game in his final season of bantam hockey (41 points in 31 games) and in his first season at the midget level (40 points in 35 contests) so his offensive abilities were there they just needed some grooming.
The Red Wings have benefitted greatly from Hiltz’s turnaround and they will continue to need his input as they battle Estevan for the division lead and also keep pace with Humboldt, Notre Dame and Kindersley in the fight to avoid having to play in the opening Wild Card round of the playoffs.
With two more years of junior eligibility remaining, the Red Wings have a solid cornerstone in place and it will be fun to see if his level of play continues to rise at its current pace.
Tag(s): Young Guns