SUN Hockey Pool

Changing allegiances?

JASON HILLS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Clayton Cumiskey grew up an Edmonton Oilers fan, but he can't help but cheer for the Colorado Avalanche these days, and it has nothing to do with Ryan Smyth signing in Colorado.

Clayton's older brother Kyle is in his first full season on the Colorado Avanlanche blueline.

"It's pretty cool to have an older brother playing in the NHL. I was able to see him play here last week. When you see him out there skating with the likes of Joe Sakic it makes you proud," said Cumiskey.

"Even growing up in B.C. I was always an Oilers fan and a fan of Ryan Smyth, but I have another reason to like Colorado now."

Kyle spent three years in the Western Hockey League with the Kelowna Rockets, where he was part of two Memorial Cup teams, winning once in 2005. He was taken in the seventh round, 222nd overall in the 2005 NHL draft by Colorado.

"To see where he was drafted and now see him ahead of a lot of the players that were taken before him, shows how hard he has worked," said Cumiskey.

"I hope to follow the same path as he did. It would be a dream to be drafted and play in the NHL."

In 13 games with the Avalanche, Kyle has recorded three assists. Last season in nine games, he tallied one goal and one assist.

TWO-WAY-FORCE

Clayton spent last season with the now defunct Williams Lake Timberwolves of the BCHL, where he recorded 29 points, in 60 games as a 16-year-old. In his first season with the Oil Kings, he has been a strong two-way force.

"Williams Lake folded last year and my rights were traded to Port Alberni. It was a tough choice because I did consider going the NCAA route, but I am glad I came here," said Cumiskey.

"Steve (Pleau) told me my role would be as a third line energy player, but as the season has gone on he's given me lots of opportunity to be more of an offensive player."

"It feels good to be able to contribute even though I am a young guy."

In 28 games with the Oil Kings, he's recorded five goals and five assists, and has found great chemistry with current linemates Brett Breitkreuz and Tomas Vincour.

GAINING CONFIDENCE

"He's done a great job for us at both ends of the rink and as he's progressing in his own zone, he's gaining more confidence in the offensive game," said Oil Kings assistant coach Rocky Thompson.

"Sometimes a player can put extra pressure on himself if he's got an older brother playing in the NHL, but this has allowed him to get a closer view and he's not putting pressure on himself, he's playing within his strengths."

Thompson played last season in the American Hockey League against Kyle. Thompson was playing for the Peoria Rivermen, while Cumiskey was playing for the Avalanche farm team in Albany N.Y.

"I don't remember, playing much against him, because we only played Albany twice," said Thompson.

"I probably threatened him a few times. I asked Clayton if his brother remembers me and he told me he thought I was a nut job."

It remains to be seen whether or not Clayton can follow the same path as his older brother, but Thompson said he going to push Cumiskey along slowly and not make him uncomfortable.

"As a young centreman, he was a bit of a liability in the beginning because he didn't know where to be," said Thompson.

"He has learned the system and it seems now when we put together a bunch of clips of the right thing to do, Clayton is always in it."

"We have to remember he is only 17, but when you see how hard his brother worked to get the NHL it's encouraging for not just Clayton but a lot of young players."


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