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More relaxed second time around

by Brittany Cole / New York Islanders
Brenden Kichton came into Islanders Mini-Camp with the mindset to keep improving his game.

The Islanders fifth round (127th overall) selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft set career highs in all scoring categories last year during his third season with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. He attributes that improvement, a 62-point increase from his second year, to having the opportunity to play and show what he can do.

Brenden Kichton skating at Nassau Coliseum during an on-ice session of Islanders Mini-Camp on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.
“I think mostly getting the ice time during the year helped,” Kichton said. “I didn’t get to play much the year before, but coming into last year, I worked hard in the gym and on the ice. I really just came in and wanted to prove people wrong.”

Prove them wrong he did. He tallied 23 goals and 58 assists on the season, a dramatic increase from his four goals and 15 assists in the 2009-10 season. Hard work in the gym, plus experience from one NHL mini-camp – he was a camp invite to the Detroit Red Wings mini-camp in 2010 – helped lead to that improvement.

The 5’10” and 175 pound defenseman said it was great to attend the Red Wings camp last year, but says this time around with the Isles means much more.

“It feels so much better coming here because I was drafted by them,” said the Spruce Grove, AB native. “Last year, it was just a camp invite, so you’re kind of a little on the fence, but it’s awesome coming here knowing that they want you and they want you to be a part of this organization. It’s just awesome.”

Brenden Kichton (blue) skating at Nassau Coliseum during an on-ice session of Islanders Mini-Camp on Wednesday, July 13, 2011.
He added that camp this year, even though he didn’t know any of the other players before coming in, just feels more relaxed.

“It’s good to get to know the guys,” Kichton said. “I didn’t really know anyone coming in here, so it’s nice to finally get comfortable and just do the camp and work.”

Kichton remembers his draft experience in June as being surreal and a dream come true, but it’s this upcoming season that he’s focused on now.

“Our team did great (last season),” he said. “We were picked to be last in the league and we lost in the conference semi-finals, so I don’t think anyone was expecting that. We had a great team and we all came together and accomplished something.”

Come October, Kichton expects to be back in Spokane, where he wants to keep improving and have the chance for another winning season before making his way to the AHL and hopefully, one day, the NHL.

“I just want to get better defensively and increase my point totals,” he said. “Hopefully (next season), I can be in Bridgeport. It’d be a dream come true to wear an Isles jersey. I grew up watching them and it would be an unreal feeling being in the NHL. It’s what I’ve always wanted.”
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