Penticton player loving college hockey with the Saints
Kam Crawford has proven to be a valuable piece for the Selkirk Saints.
He ended up being one of the final pieces to the puzzle in assembling the roster. Unsure of what he wanted to do, the makeup of the Saints and familiarity with some players lured him to Castlegar.
The Penticton minor hockey product has made a smooth transition with the Saints who play in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League.
“There’s usually a real adjustment from junior hockey to college hockey for guys,” said Saints coach Jeff Dubois. “Kam certainly has the skill level for it. You go from being a 20-year-old playing against predominantly younger players to being one of the younger guys playing against 23- and 24-year-old guys.”
Crawford said the jump wasn’t a big difference.
“The hockey is obviously better. Older players in the league, more experience,” said Crawford, a six-foot-two, 200 pound blue liner. “Been doing well so far. It helps a lot when you have a great team.”
Dubois, in his first year with the Saints after leaving Simon Fraser University, said he first contacted Crawford after he finished his season with the Osoyoos Coyotes in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Crawford had joined the Penticton Vees as an affiliate player for their playoff run. Crawford joined the Saints’ defence corps that had only two returnees. That provided a window to earn a big role.
“Kam had a really good year offensively with Osoyoos in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League last year,” said Dubois. “I know that really wasn’t his forte when he played in Merritt in the BCHL, but we gave him an opportunity to get on the power play early in the season and he did really well with that.”
Twelve of Crawford’s 20 points have come from the man advantage and he leads all BCIHL blue liners in scoring. He also has two game-winning goals. When it comes to the power play, Dubois lets his players give input on how it should be run.
“He’s really taken a leadership role in terms of being the power play quarterback,” he said. “Being vocal with the rest of our group. Overall, just been a really positive impact on the team.”
Crawford is getting lots of playing time and loving it. He’s benefitting from playing on an offensive team (100 goals in 17 games) that plays a run-and-gun style.
“He’s fit in really well with that. He’s also been pretty solid for us in the defensive zone,” said Dubois, adding that Crawford possesses a high hockey IQ and is easy to coach. “He’s one of the leaders in terms of our group of defenceman for sure.”
Crawford was a key in the Saints setting a BCIHL record with 13 consecutive wins, especially when injuries hit the team.
“Kam stepped in and played a lot of minutes,” said Dubois. “He’s one of our top guys going down the stretch here.”
He’s loving the hockey and said it was “unreal” to set a new BCIHL record for consecutive wins.
“We actually beat the team who had the last record, SFU,” said Crawford. “It was pretty awesome.”
Heading into the weekend, the Saints are first in the league at 16-1-0. Part of the reason they are so successful is because the players enjoy being around each other. He’s also enjoying living in Castlegar, which eventually grew on him.
“It’s actually a really beautiful place,” he said.