Versatile Kell finds role with Knights

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

When hard-working forward Trevor Kell arrived in London last year, Knights head coach Dale Hunter didn't know what to do with him.

Play him on a scoring line? Checking line? Penalty kill?

"We didn't know where we were going to fit him in," Hunter said. "But we knew we had to find somewhere to put him. Trevor's one of those kids who will hit and take a hit to make a play. Not everybody takes those hits -- they hurt -- but that's the way he plays."

It's the kind of hard-nosed effort Hunter respects and it's a big reason why the coach quickly figured out where to put the 18-year-old Thunder Bay native: everywhere.

Scoring line. Checking line. Penalty kill. Even power play.

"He's bigger this year (five-foot-11, 180-pounds) so he can handle being in front of the net and take the pounding on the power play," Hunter said. "I'm glad he was drafted last year (fifth round to Chicago). It showed that people were paying attention to all those minutes I was playing him."

Kell had 15 points in 15 playoff games last spring and that confidence has carried over to this fall with three goals (two game-winners, one power-play) in his past three games.

The Knights have started the season with five straight wins, a streak Kell hopes to help extend with games against Windsor tonight, in Sarnia tomorrow and in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday.

"It was so much better this year coming into camp knowing I had a spot on the team," Kell said. "Last year, I came here and didn't know anybody . . . didn't know how I was going to fit in . . . but you find a role. On this team, it doesn't really matter who you play with --everybody's talented."

For all his increased ice time, Kell knows he'll never likely be more than a point-a-game kind of guy. His three goals are all the points he has.

"I always get zero points in those 8-0 games, I never get anything in those ones," Kell said with a grin. "I've always been better in the close, tight games decided by one goal. I just seem to raise my play in the third period when the game's on the line."

Though Hunter is notorious for switching linemates, he admits that Kell and high-scoring forward David Bolland, also a Chicago Blackhawks draft pick, have worked well together in this early season. That doesn't mean the duo will be together for long, though.

"I like everyone to be able to play with everyone, you never know when there will be injuries, but when there's chemistry, you try to keep at least two of the guys together," Hunter said.

"Trevor and I know each other out there," Bolland said. "He gets in the corner and I head to the front of the net. He knows I'm not against getting in the corner and when I do, he goes to the front."

Kell and Bolland went to a Hawks rookie camp in the Windy City in July. The team's regular training camp was cancelled by the lockout.

"The rookie camp was a great experience, I actually knew more guys there than I did my first week here (in London)," Kell said. "There was Dave (Bolland) and (former Knight) Scott Sheppard and about seven guys from the OHL."

Dale Hunter said defenceman Frank Rediker, out of action almost since he arrived in London last January, should finally be ready to return to the lineup next weekend.

Veteran forward Brandon Prust is still day-to-day with bruised ribs.

"It's like what Joe Thornton had in the (NHL) playoffs last year," Hunter said of Prust. "We want to be careful with it and not bring him back too soon. We don't want it to linger longer than it should."

KNIGHTWATCH

Tonight: vs. Windsor Spitfires, John Labatt Centre, 7:30 p.m.

Tomorrow: at Sarnia Sting, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday: at Soo Greyhounds, 7 p.m.


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