Wruck literally gets better every month
Oil Kings leading scorer should break modern-day club records
By Curtis Stock, Edmonton Journal
February 8, 2011
WHL GAME TIME
COUGARS VS. OIL KINGS
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Too small. How many times can someone hear that?
Edmonton Oil Kings forward Dylan Wruck has heard it a lot. And for a long time.
"I just try and not let it bother me," said the five-foot-eight, 160-pound left-winger, who obviously stopped listening a long time ago.
With a quarter of the Western Hockey League season still to play, Wruck has already set a modern-day franchise record for goals (31) and is closing in on another team record for points.
"Speed and quickness," Wruck said of the calling cards he uses to trump size. "I try and outsmart those big guys."
Wruck has done that all year, increasing his totals every month.
Undrafted in the WHL's bantam draft, Wruck struck for eight points in October, 10 in November, 15 in December and then 18 last month. With four points this month and two in September, Wruck has a team-leading 57 points, which is just five short of the modern franchise record.
In the Oil Kings' second return season, Brenden Dowd and Jeff Lee both scored 62 points in the 2008-09 campaign.
"Linemates" is Wruck's first unselfish reason for his success, pointing at centre Jordan Hickmott, whom he has played with almost entirely this season while his right-winger has changed.
Hickmott has 50 points while centre Michael St. Croix has 54.
"With 18 games left, there should be a bunch of us that should beat that record of 62 points for the season. There's lots of time left, for sure," said Wruck.
After getting 12 points in 52 games last season -- a fifth of what he has accomplished in virtually the same number of games this season -- Wruck said the second-biggest reason for his success is maturity.
"I'm getting the opportunities. I'm an older guy this year," said Wruck, 18, who also led the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League while playing for the Beardy's Blackhawks.
"Last year, I was a rookie and not getting as much ice time. Now I'm on the first line. I'm one of the go-to guys to put the puck in the net. That's my role right now."
Wruck comes about his abilities naturally. His third cousin is Larry Wruck, who played 12 seasons as a linebacker with the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League. His second cousin is Brian Propp, who scored 1,004 points in the NHL.
Wruck has Propp's height but not Propp's or Larry's size.
"I'd love to be six-foot-four but I don't think that's going to happen," he said, laughing. "I've filled out a little, but I need to get working on that."
Then again, with the obstruction-rule changes in all levels of hockey, it's clear that smaller players are no longer at such a disadvantage.
"A lot more guys have had success because of that," said Wruck. "There's more room to move down low. You can get some space now and use your speed and quickness to create things."
Currently in the middle of the pack and in the middle of a playoff push, the Oil Kings play the Prince George Cougars Tuesday at Rexall Place at 7 p.m.
"We're not chasing," Wruck said of the 24-26-1-3 Oil Kings. "We just have to stay ahead of the teams we're ahead of."
After tonight's game, the Oil Kings head off for a three-game road against the Moose Jaw Warriors, Brandon Wheat Kings (where Propp set team records that still stand), and Swift Current Broncos.
Born in Saskatoon, Wruck knows there will be lots of family and friends out for the two games in Saskatchewan. He definitely won't be the "little" guy then.
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