Wheat King enjoys visit with family

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

In the midst of a hellish road trip, the rolling Stone is glad he's home, even if it's just for a couple of days.

With his Brandon Wheat Kings on an 11-games-in-seven- days road swing through Western Canada, at least Calgarian Ryan Stone can put his feet up for a while and say he's home.

The 19-year-old sniper got to enjoy a meal with his family last night and couldn't be happier.

"I get to see my friends and family and they get to watch me play hockey, so it's a win-win," said Stone, who is tied for the WHL lead in scoring with 25 points (12g, 12a) in 15 games.

The Wheat Kings play the Hitmen tonight (Saddledome, 7 p.m., The Fan 960).

And being home allows him to see how his younger brother, Colin, is doing as he recovers from a nasty concussion suffered in last season's playoffs as a member of the Swift Current Broncos.

"He's all right. He went to see the doctor a couple of days ago, so he's doing OK," said Stone, who played a year of midget in Calgary with the Northstars under head coach Carey Bracko.

After learning about Colin's injury, which left him in a coma for 10 days, the news hit Stone pretty hard but he felt he couldn't let his true feelings show at the time.

"I didn't want to really show anything or for him to see that I was down because that would just make him feel that much worse, so I was trying to be positive and upbeat," said Stone.

Colin, 18, still hasn't played since he got hurt March 17.

Even with his brother's injury weighing on his mind, Ryan really went all out in the off-season in terms of getting in shape for the 2004-05 campaign.

"My trainer worked me pretty hard and I was working out with some pretty intense guys, too, so they pushed me as well," said Stone, the Wheat Kings rookie of the year in 2002.

"I wanted to get into the best shape for pro camp, if there was a pro camp, and for the junior camp as well -- and for Brandon."

Speaking of the junior camp, Stone was in Calgary this past August, trying to impress head coach Brent Sutter and solidify a spot with the Canadian team for the world junior championships in December.

"I didn't talk to (Brent) much but I think the camp went well for me. I just tried to work hard and play my style of game and I think I did," said Stone, who is looking for his first gig with the junior national team.

The Pittsburgh Penguins drafted the 6-ft. 2-in., 200-lb. centre 32nd overall in 2003 but the financially challenged NHL franchise did not hold any kind of rookie camp this year.

And the NHL lockout has taken some of the lustre off those great memories of the draft for Stone.

"It meant a lot more over the year but now with the lockout and all this other stuff going on and I just realized that I can't let it affect me and not really worry about it," he said.

"If I play well, then I can determine what I want to do when I'm older and sign a pro contract or whatever.

"But, now, there's no NHL and that sucks."

Certainly, with no NHL, there's less on TV to watch during the downtime for Stone and the Wheat Kings while they're on the road.

But the 7-6-1-1 team can focus on getting better.

"We need to be better defensively and cut down on our turnovers," said Stone.


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