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Joe Hicketts heads wealth of draft-eligible Royals

Randy Gorman checks in with notes on players from the Victoria Royals, floating slightly over .500 with a 9-7-1 record, good enough for sixth in the Western Conference of the WHL.

Joe Hicketts (2014), D, Victoria

Jon Howe One Lion Photography
Jon Howe One Lion Photography

Mobile puck moving defenseman likes to jump into the play and contribute to the offensive attack .. the diminutive blueliner leads his team in scoring from the back end as a sophomore through the first month of the season with nine points including four goals .. makes a strong first pass out of his own zone - as he stays calm and does not panic when pressured .. finishes his checks and challenges opposing players who carry the puck .. angles opposing skaters to the outside with good gap space judgment .. he has excellent speed as a skater and utilizes his quickness when reading plays developing for positioning .. won't shy away from physical play, but needs to get a little stronger to play at the pro-level .. possesses a good shot with good control but could work a little on velocity. 

Brandon Fushimi (2014), RW, Victoria

A good two-way forward who has played with a lot of energy and finesse .. boasts pretty good speed and prefers to carry the puck rather than dump it in to the opposing team's zone .. possesses solid puck skills and protects the puck well using good body position .. needs to make better decisions with the puck at times as he tends to hang onto it too long which can lead to turnovers .. defensively, he's very responsible on the back check when on transition, picking up his opposite number .. plays with a lot of energy but would like to see him battle harder for the puck .. does go hard to the net looking for rebound chances. 

Luke Harrison (2014), RW, Victoria

Big power forward in the making, Harrison is still growing and creates scoring opportunities by his physical play .. he's not the fastest skater out there as he has a slower push off from his first two steps but can crank it up a grat once in full stride .. tenacious checker makes it hard for opposing players to play against him .. great shot in close with good zip and accuracy .. positions himself in front of the net and causes  problems for opposing players .. defensively, he needs some work as he sometimes gets caught out of position in transition, but chalk that up to inexperience and he should get better .. he's one guy to watch through-out the season.

Jack Walker (2014), LW, Victoria

The Edina, Minnesota native has settled in on a checking role this season with the Royals .. He is oven out there as a shut down guy against opposing teams' top lines .. he's pesky and works hard at his defensive game .. he has a a pretty decent shot but must take better percentage shots when given the opportunity, instead of trying to shoot through blocked shooting lanes .. he is a very good skater with a a shorter skater stride and he has a good first two steps from a power push-off .. He finished his checks but must get stronger when working against the wall in puck battle situations with other players .. he will likely improve on his scoring totals over time because is gifted with good hands, but at this point that is not his role with the Royals.

Landon Welykholowa (2014), C, Victoria

He has had limited playing time this season .. Foot speed is a concern, something he must work at this season as his skating is average .. He reads plays well and reacts on defensive coverage .. he's not afraid to deliver a hit and can receive one as well .. must work on his shot with control and velocity needing to improve. 

Ryan Gagnon (2014), D, Victoria

Gagnon is a work in progress and has some upside .. he's a stay-at-home type defenseman and plays very physical and is not afraid to drop the gloves on occasion .. delivers big body checks, and he has a nasty streak .. he needs to simplify his game, in so much as to not try to over compensate for simple ways to relieve pressure in his own zone by using the boards instead of blindly throwing the pick away up the middle .. this is just inexperience and I believe coaching and experience will turn this around .. he's willing to block shots and pay the price to take away opposing teams' scoring chances .. expect improvement as the season progresses.

Jake Kohlhauser (2014), D, Victoria

Kohlhauser came over in an early season trade with the Vancouver Giants due to the numbers game there .. he is also facing the same situation in Victoria as he has only played a handful of game .. a fluid skater with good speed and will add to the offense .. needs to have a better judgement reading at times with gap space control .. does make a good pass out of his own zone, but will carry it when given the opportunity .. can be a little more patient and wait for shooting lanes to clear before trying to force shots through from the point .. doesn't play that physical, and needs to get tougher.


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