Calgarian loves switching colours

CAM MAXWELL, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

As Brandon Kozun puts it, he's enjoying the best of both worlds.

The Calgary Royals sniper has moonlighted this season between his AJHL club and the WHL's Calgary Hitmen, where he has had a chance to get some ice time.

And the talented 16-year-old is loving life, especially after scoring his first goal Wednesday for the Hitmen.

"I've been up and down a few times but it makes you a stronger player," said Kozun, a Calgarian who has played in eight games with the Hitmen, collecting two points.

"I'd like to be (in the WHL) but it's still fun in the AJHL.

"I get treated really good, so it's the best of both worlds."

It sure is as his Royals teammates love the little guy, who stands 5-ft. 8-in. and has 13 goals and eight assists in 20 games. Royals head coach Ryan Barrett said he's missed having Kozun on the club.

"He's fun to have in the dressing room," said Barrett, who expects to have Kozun back in the lineup tomorrow when the Royals host the Fort Saskatchewan Traders at Father David Bauer Arena (2 p.m.).

"The boys latched onto him right away, not only because he's skilled but he's a great kid as well."

Kozun honed his skills last season at Shattuck St. Mary's in Faribault, Minn., which has arguably the best midget hockey program in the U.S.

So it's no surprise the Royals can't wait to get Kozun and his goal-scoring touch back in the lineup.

"He's very gifted offensively and he helps our powerplay out by putting a lot more onus on the other team not to take penalties, so he makes a big difference in key situations," Barrett said.

"And I'll tell you, the kid scores when you need him to."

Many people look at Kozun and write him off because of his stature and 155-lb. frame but he knows how to handle himself against bigger players.

"He's not an overly big guy but his pain threshold is amazing," Barrett said.

"A small guy like him, you've got to be tough or you're not going to go anywhere."

No doubt he'll help the 18-23-0-0 Royals solidify a playoff spot down the stretch as the AJHL season winds down.

GOING PRO:

Former Drumheller Dragon J.D. Watt is the latest Calgary Flames signee.

Watt started his junior career in 2003-04 with the Dragons before moving up to the WHL's Vancouver Giants.

The native of Cremona, Alta., was drafted by the Flames in the fourth round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (111th overall).

Watt has 18 goals in 38 games with the Giants this season.

MAKING THE GRADE:

Calgarian Branden Gay, who plays for the Drayton Valley Thunder, is going to attend Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh next season ... Okotoks Oilers defenceman Kyle Schussler is on his way to Dartmouth College after committing to the ECACHL school for 2007-08.


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