SHERWOOD PARK - The 2012-13 season was a breakout year for big Oilers forward Kale Kessy but it was also one that took him to all corners of the hockey world.
"It was a little bit of a whirlwind year. I felt like I was everywhere, from the east coast to the west coast and all over the place," said Kessy.
It was his fifth full year in the WHL, one that was spent entirely with the Medicine Hat Tigers to that point. A late December birthdate, Kessy was also an over-ager. His 20-year-old campaign did not get off to a great start.
"Starting in Medicine Hat, played my first two games and then I had a 12-game suspension to start the year off."
The suspension was Kessy's seventh in his WHL career which explains the lengthiness for a check to the head of Lethbridge Hurricanes defenceman Rich Pilon. During the suspension, the Coyotes opted to have Kessy skate with their American Hockey League affiliate on the east coast in Portland, Maine.
"I went down to the Portland Pirates -- I was still with the Phoenix Coyotes -- and I was there for a month or so then I was on my way back from Portland and found out I was traded to the Vancouver Giants."
Kessy played 27 games with the Giants, scoring seven goals and adding nine assists for 16 points and 45 penalty minutes.
"I played there for a month and a half and then a couple days before the trading deadline I got traded to the Kamloops Blazers. It was kind of weird, I had just finished playing the Blazers when I was on the Giants and then I got traded to the Blazers after the game."
The Shaunavon, Saskatchewan native blossomed with the Blazers, putting up 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 31 games along with 44 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he led all Blazers with 11 goals in 15 games as Kamloops went deep into the third round.
"Once you get the opportunity, you've just got to take the opportunity and run with it. That's what I did there in Kamloops. I was playing with a lot of good players, too. Colin Smith, Tim Bozon, Brendan Ranford and J.C. Lipon and guys like that who were drafted to the NHL and signed now."
It was during that playoff run that Kessy was moved to the Oilers in exchange for Tobias Rieder.
"During my draft year, the two teams I talked to the most were Phoenix and the Edmonton Oilers. It was definitely an exciting time when I got drafted but at the same time I wanted the best chance to play pro hockey and I'm happy I can do that with the Edmonton Oilers."
Despite the offensive surge his game has seen, Kessy knows what type of hockey makes him the most successful and how he needs to play as a pro moving forward.
"My game has evolved around hard work and physical play. I'm not going to be a fancy player and try and make the fancy plays. I'm just going to be a hard, in-your-face type player and try and get in front of the net, box out the goalie and the defence and make it hard for them. At the same time, I'm willing to stick up for my teammates whenever I can."