Hitmen defender grins and bears it

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

Some day off for Ben Wilson.

While the rest of his Calgary Hitmen teammmates were off galavanting and enjoying a Saturday away from hockey, the defenceman had to spend a few hours in a dentist chair for a root canal.

Wilson received more than just a commemorative T-shirt for a souvenir from the club’s Eastern Conference-clinching 6-1 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings Friday night. He lost half of one front tooth and the other was cracked courtesy a high stick to the face.

“I gave him a little shove and was turning to go up the ice because the puck was gone and he got me in the teeth,” Wilson said prior to Sunday’s practice.

“I was more surprised that I lost a tooth more than anything. It was pretty shocking.”

In the waning minutes of the Game 5 victory, frustrated Brandon forward Scott Glennie took a baseball-style swing at a puck that wasn’t there, and slammed the blade of his stick into Wilson’s mouth.

It earned Glennie a double-minor for high sticking and Wilson a trip to the dentist.

“I didn’t feel anything,” said Wilson, who’ll wait for summer to fix the gap-tooth grin. “Temporary crowns just break off, so there’s no point in doing a new one now, so I’ll wait for the summer and he’ll put a crown on it.

“I probably won’t remember it if we win a Memorial Cup.”

A Memorial Cup title is a long way off right now. First up for Wilson and his Hitmen teammates is the WHL championship final.

Calgary will meet the Tri-City Americans when the title series opens Friday night at the Saddledome. Game 2 of the series goes Saturday.

Tri-City beat the Vancouver Giants 5-2 Sunday to win the Western Conference final 4-2.

The Hitmen have a few extra days to rest and prepare, but you can understand them wanting to get going soon since they’re riding a four-game winning streak to claim their second straight Eastern Conference crown.

Plus, there are so many individuals who feel they’re on top of their game, such as Wilson, the prototypical 5-foot-10 — give or take an inch — player you find on most WHL rosters.

Originally drafted by Everett, the Calgary product from the Buffaloes program spent last season skating for the AJHL Grizzlys after he was cut by the Hitmen.

He decided to give the WHL another crack this season, a decision he can’t regret now.

“After last year, I was thinking the college route, but

I didn’t talk to any schools,” he said. “Plus, I didn’t want to regret not trying out for the Dub and seeing what could have happened.”

What’s happened is Wilson’s gained momentum all season.

He may not be big by hockey standards, but the gritty blueliner collected four goals, 15 points and 112 penalty minutes in 66 regular season games. Through 16 playoff tilts, he has a pair of assists and six PIMs but is logging more and more ice time.

“They put some confidence in me in the playoffs, and I’ve tried to step up,” Wilson said. “When (Kyle) Aschim went down, I saw more ice time. Now I’m playing with Riz (Jaynen Rissling) and he’s young, so I have to step it up.

“I’m the old guy.”

Wilson has had to deal with the negatives of being a smaller defenceman, but he knows how to make the most of his stature.

For starters, he’s physical. Just ask Brandon’s Aaron Lewadniuk, who was clobbered by Wilson Friday.

“I try to use my size as an advantage. Those big guys, they’re always hitting high, so I try to get them low and take them out at the hips. That’s my game plan.”


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