There was a fresh face roaming the halls of Western Financial Place Thursday afternoon as newly-acquired forward Dylan Stewart emerged from the Kootenay Ice dressing room with a smile across his face.
“Honestly, at first, I was shocked,” Stewart said Thursday of being traded. “Then after a while, you realize you’re going to be a getting an opportunity somewhere else to maybe play a little more and help a team out more. So I’m really excited.”
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound forward was acquired by the Ice, along with a conditional fifth-round pick, from the Prince Albert Raiders Wednesday afternoon.
He arrived in Cranbrook in time to skate with the Ice Thursday and is expected to be in the lineup when the Saskatoon Blades visit Western Financial Place Friday night.
With only 10 healthy forwards prior to the acquisition of Stewart heading into the weekend, the arrival of the 18-year-old Edmonton native is a welcome one.
Ice head coach Luke Pierce expects to use Stewart at centre to begin with. Should that not work as hoped, Stewart brings a versatility that will allow him to be deployed at any forward position.
“He looks to be a real responsible player that was doing everything he could to play within the system there in Prince Albert, which is really big for us,” Pierce said Thursday. “We’ve had some challenges with some of our guys understanding the structure and playing within it. Having another body that can buy into what we’re doing is a positive thing. We need to be a very detail-oriented club and that’s what we’re looking for from him.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for Dylan. What he chooses to do with it is up to him.”
Stewart describes himself as a 200-foot player that can put the puck in the net, is good on face-offs and will do anything to help his team win.
That’s all welcome news for Pierce.
Stewart, who posted eight goals and 10 points in 80 career games with the Raiders, is expected to wear sweater No. 27 when the Ice host the Blades Friday night.
Having started the season with the East Division-leading Raiders, Stewart hopes to bring some of that mojo to Cranbrook in order to help spur his new squad.
First comes a contest with the Blades, a team Stewart is familiar with after having played them twice in September as a member of the Raiders.
“With [the Raiders], we were really hot, winning a lot of games. There was a good feeling in the room,” Stewart said. “[I want to] bring some of what I’ve learned there, bringing it here to help us win some games.
“Shutting down [the Blades’] top line is really important. They real do a lot of damage. If we just play our game, shoot pucks and get pucks to the net, I think we can beat them.”
Puck drop between the Blades and Ice at 7 p.m on College Night at Western Financial Place.