Nitro’s play, experience leads to Vikes commitment
However, as Vikes head coach and general manager Harry Schamhart puts it, there is opportunity for Pilon to go for the top job. In fact, it’s expected.
“His job is to outperform the other goalies. We get a starting goalie that will win games,” said Schamhart of Pilon, who played 36 games with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Canucks and this season played a game with the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials as an affiliate.
Knowing how difficult it is to find quality goaltenders to play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League, Schamhart is more than happy to add someone like Pilon.
“He has played junior A and played for one of the premier teams in the province,” said Schamhart, who has been with the Vikes since 2006. “In rebuilding our program, we were looking for players with experience moving forward.”
The 20-year-old from Calgary won 17 of his 21 games. He earned two shutouts to go with a .921 save percentage. Pilon says this season was likely his best statistically and part of that has to do with his consistency. His skill set reminds Schamhart of Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) alum Daniel Paul, who joined the Vikes from the Osoyoos Coyotes.
“They are athletic, have skill and have a compete level,” says Schamhart. “That’s what I like.”
Getting this commitment means the world to Pilon, who has always wanted to play university hockey.
“UVic has a great program out there and it is an amazing place to go to school. I’m really excited at the opportunity,” said the well-spoken Pilon. “I can’t wait to continue to play hockey.”
Pilon and Schamhart connected nearly two months ago and it wasn’t a hard decision for the Dynamiter to choose. Along with seeing the great work Schamhart is doing to turn the program around, UVic is where Pilon always wanted to go.
“The fact that I can play hockey alongside getting an education was a perfect opportunity for me,” said Pilon, who plans to become a mathematics major.
Pilon’s lone season in the KIJHL with the Dynamiters was really good.
“I became a lot more controlled and I feel I’m a very technical goalie,” he said. “That is one of my strong suits. This year I really focused on staying calm in my net and making sure I let everything I have been taught dictate how I play and controlled myself.”
Pilon gave a lot of credit to the team in front of him adding they had a very good defensive core.
“It was pretty easy to play well when your team is helping you out all the time,” he said. “That was a big factor this year. They helped out a ton to make things easy for me.”
Pilon also learned from local Adam Anderson, who was great in educating him about the community.
Pilon was very impressed with the play in the KIJHL.
“It ended up outdoing my expectations of being a lot better of a league than some people assumed it would be for junior B. I’ve enjoyed playing in it. It’s run really well. The fans on every team are incredible. Cool to experience the small town atmospheres.”
Pilon thanked the City of Kimberley for everything, but says his decision to come to the KIJHL really paid off for him. It helped him net an opportunity with the Vikes.
Photo courtesy of Syltography