Joining Nats new chance for Wilson

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Andrew Wilson was the 44th player chosen in the 2005 Ontario Hockey League entry draft.

He was the a member of the promising group of six London Junior Knights who made up six of the first 44 players chosen that year. The others were Drew Doughty, Logan Couture, Jordan Skellett, Adam Zamec and Leigh Salters. They remain in the OHL.

Last night, Wilson returned to London in an effort to get his hockey career back on track and fulfil that promise. He was sent to the London Nationals of the Western Ontario Hockey League by the team that drafted him two years ago, the Kingston Frontenacs.

Wilson played against the Leamington Flyers last night at Western Fair Sports Centre, in a game won by the Flyers, 4-3 in overtime.

Wilson still has potential. But a string of bad luck has dogged the skilled forward since he was drafted. He broke a leg last year and only played 32 games. Then, in an exhibition game this year, he broke his jaw in two places.

One of the knocks against Wilson was his size. Even though he's six-foot-one, he's only about 170 pounds. He managed to put on about 15 pounds this summer, but lost it all when he broke his jaw.

"There's not much you can do about injuries, they happen," said Wilson. "I just want to come here, pick up some points and work on some stuff. I want to get back to playing regularly and show people what I can do. I never really got a chance up there. I didn't get much ice time. Hopefully, I'll get a chance here to prove myself."

Wilson was shocked when the telephone rang at his billet a week ago Wednesday. It was the day of the OHL trade deadline.

"I looked at the phone and it came up 'Kingston Frontenacs,' " said Wilson. "I thought I'd been traded. Instead it was (general manager Larry Mavety) who told me they'd picked up a left winger and I'd be spending 70 per cent of the time in the stands or that I could go back to London. I had 15 minutes to decide. I had no idea they were thinking of sending me down."

Wilson could have also gone to Collingwood. It was an easy choice to come back home.

"(Mavety) told me to come here, get lots of ice time and get ready to come back next year. I don't think I'm going to go back there."

Wilson got a regular shift last night, but it's going to take a while for him to get game sharp, especially with a Nationals team that continues to improve after a rough start. He can help a team that's had trouble scoring but has also improved significantly overall since coaches Matt Jenner and Paul Marsh took over early in the season.

"It's team-building," said Marsh. "It's getting the right people in the right places to develop leadership. Building leadership helps build a successful program. It helps people believe in themselves."

Once the core leadership of players has developed, it's much easier to integrate new players.

"This team's been through a lot this year," said Marsh. "They've persevered and learned from it. We'll be set for the playoffs."

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GAME GLANCE

Flyers 4, Nationals 3 (OT)

Leamington goals: Sean DeMuynck, Kyle Kudroch 2, Matt Papineau

London goals: Luke VanMoerkerke, Joel Shaw, Michael D'Agostini

Next: London plays at Tecumseh tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.


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