Coming back from his second injury of the season, Tyler Pitlick was able to pick back up his momentum and confidence.
Pitlick missed eight games when he was out with a concussion in late November before suffering a serious knee injury on Jan. 23, where he missed another 25 games. He returned with two goals and three points in 14 games after returning.
“I feel better than I did before. After the knee injury, I was so excited to come back. I was playing really well right away and I’ve just been building off that. I have a lot of confidence right now and I’ve been getting some points so I feel really good right now.”
Known for his size and speed, 6’2” and 193 pounds, Pitlick was selected in the second round, 31st overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
“I’m a big guy who uses speed and his body down low to control the puck and I like to get physical and hit guys.”
A moment, which stood out for him, was when he was chosen after Edmonton’s first pick, Taylor Hall.
“It was pretty cool. The team has a lot of history and they had number one draft for a few years and I was picked after Taylor Hall, so that was pretty cool. It’s cool to be drafted period. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of.”
Before entering the Entry Draft, Pitlick spent one year at Minnesota State University and played 38 games scoring eleven goals with eight assists. After being drafted, he was sent to the Western Hockey League to join the Medicine Hat Tiger and one year later, Pitlick turned pro and joined the OKC Barons in 2011-12.
In just three years, Pitlick played for three different leagues and said the transition hasn’t been that bad.
“Going from high school to college, college to junior is just a different game and I still had quite a bit of a transition period in that one and I had my transition period last year too. So it’s kind of like going from team to team too. They’re all tough leagues. Between college and junior, the difference is in college, you’re playing against older guys and in junior, there are a lot of young, really skilled guys but you’ve still got that physicality to it. In the AHL, it’s a combination of both. Here’s it fast, everyone is always in the right position and there are older guys so it’s definitely harder up here.”
In Pitlick’s first year with OKC, he played 62 games and posted seven goals with 23 points on the season, which was enough to help the team into the post-season. The Barons were able to defeat the Houston Aeros and San Antonio Rampage to advance to the Western Conference Final before losing to the Toronto Marlies in five games. In 13 playoff games, he was able to scored two goals and had five assists.
The Barons are back in the post-season again and Pitlick said the biggest difference between last year and this year are the standings. Last year, the Barons were first in the Western Conference with home-ice advantage but this year, they ended up in fifth and will start their post-season on the road.
“I don’t think it’ll be too different. The only thing is we’re going into it a little differently. Last year, we were in first and this year, we’re in fifth so that’s a little different but I think we’re all in the same mindset, keeping it simple and sticking to the game plan and using our physicality and speed to our advantage.”
The Barons’ playoff starts this Friday as they travel to North Carolina to face the Charlotte Checkers.