Kole Lind took major strides in his professional hockey career during his second season with the Utica Comets in the American Hockey League.
When the AHL season was suspended, the Shaunavon product was tied for 30th in league scoring with 44 points in 61 games.
“Overall I thought it was a really good season for me. I kind of started to produce points again this year. I thought I rounded out my game better this year, more of a two-way game and more responsible in each end of the ice to help gain the coach’s trust and to gain some more opportunity out on the ice,” he said.
It was a drastic improvement from his 17 points in 51 games during his first professional season.
“I think a big thing for me was the summer of work that I put in last summer. I worked really hard just to be stronger and be mentally ready for this season. Obviously it paid off I thought. I came into the year with a lot more confidence than I thought I would have. I got off to a good start and just went from there.”
His Comets scored 210 goals in 61 games with the second highest goals per game in the 31-team league.
“Our team was really good this year with a lot of skill in our forward group and our defensive group even. It was a really fun group to play with offensively and creating chances with everyone was really fun. I haven’t really had that much of a skilled group probably since, I don’t even know, a long time ago. We had a lot of offensive players and it was fun to create chances with those guys. It was one heck of a group and I am excited to see what happens.”
Lind, 21, was drafted 33rd overall in the 2017 NHL Draft by the Vancouver Canucks and his quest to make it to the National Hockey League took a step forward this season.
“Overall I thought I rounded out my game better into more of a two-way game and being more responsible. I think that’s something that translates very easy to the next level. Obviously I wanted to get some games in hopefully at the end of this year, but if that doesn’t happen then I want to get some games in next year and go from there.”
The AHL suspended play on March 12 when the Comets were third in the North Division with 34-22-3-2 record. The Comets played their final game on March 11 against the visiting Syracuse Crunch. They were slated to play two days later against the Belleville Senators.
“It was crazy. I think on Wednesday night we saw the NBA season get cancelled. We played a game that night and everyone was checking their Twitter after the game and we heard about that. We came to the rink the next morning for an optional skate and then we found out the team we were playing on Friday wasn’t even coming to Utica. We kind of just hung out from there and spent I think just over a week in our places in Utica and then we got told to go home,” explained Lind, who is now back home in Shaunavon.
There hasn’t been much news on whether the AHL will get back on the ice this season, so for now Lind is just trying to stay in shape.
“Our trainers in Utica have done a really good job of sending us stuff to do for workouts each day. They keep it relatively quick. Lots of the stuff is body weight related. I got really lucky because we have stuff here in Shaunavon at our house, so that helps me out a lot,” said Lind, who added that he can workout with his siblings, who are also trying to stay in hockey shape.
One of the other memorable aspects of his season was the opportunity to team up with Shaunavon’s Dyson Stevenson, who suited up for 33 games with the Comets.
“Dyson and are really good buddies, our families are best friends,” explained Lind. “We actually live right across the street from each other. We see each other quite a bit every year. It was a really cool experience having him there.”
The Southwest ‘Boomtown’ has long been considered a hockey hotbed, with the likes of Hayley Wickenheiser and Braydon Coburn hailing from Shaunavon.
“A town of 1,800 people, to have me and him end up on the same professional hockey team that’s pretty special. I think that goes to show a lot of what Shaunavon is all about.”
Lind is hoping to skate with Stevenson again when the time is right.
“I think his role for a long time has obviously been dropping the gloves and standing up for teammates. But I thought he did a little bit more than even that this year. I think he surprised himself and showed a lot of skill and a lot of poise when he needed to. I think he gained a lot of the coaches’ trust this year. Overall I thought he had a really good year and hopefully he can carry that on to next year or the end of this year.”