This past season was anything but an ordinary one for Brandon Wheat Kings prospect, Tyson Zimmer. Playing his first season with the U18 Okanagan Prep Red team, the team found themselves in some pretty unfamiliar territory when it came to icing a roster for several games.
That’s because the injury bug and sickness certainly hit the team. They were forced to play with six forwards and three or four defencemen on more than one occasion throughout the season. The team still did manage 17 wins throughout the season. On top of that, they had a +24 goal differential.
Zimmer himself was second in team scoring with 37 regular-season points, only five behind Quinn Disher who led the way with 42 points.
“My game was different this year, my main focus was playing on both sides of the puck,” said Zimmer. “I was pretty slow to start the year; The shape I was in wasn’t good enough to play the minutes I was.”
“I went home for Christmas and I woke up. I found I played very well during the end of the season,” he added.
Zimmer started the season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, a team he grew up watching. Growing up less than two hours away from Westoba Place, Zimmer spent many nights in the Wheat City.
His dream of one day playing for them took a big step forward when he was drafted sixth overall in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.
Zimmer ended up playing a pre-season tilt with Brandon against the ICE before he was sent back to his club team which ended up being Okanagan. It was during his time in Brandon when he really realized how important the defensive end of the ice was.
“Seeing all of those guys at Brandon camp, they’re playing on both sides of the puck,” continued Zimmer. “It’s pretty simple, I won’t get the chance to play if I’m just worrying about scoring. It’s all about playing a full 200-foot game.”
Zimmer was also aiming to impress the Brandon Wheat Kings, something he figures he accomplished.
“I think I impressed them with my full game,” he added. “My offence was decent I guess. I had some trouble scoring early in the season, but I picked it up as the season went on. I had more confidence with the puck and that’s massive, it’s something I have to improve on.”
As it was for so many players across Canada, Zimmer’s season was cut short because of the growing concern of COVID-19. The team did get in two playoff games; however, both of which they came up short. Against Northern Alberta, Zimmer had one assist in a 6-1 loss. Playing against Burnaby in their second game, Zimmer stepped things up. He had two goals and one assist in a 5-4 overtime loss.
So yes, the season did end earlier than he would have hoped, but that just gives him more time to prepare for his second Wheat Kings camp which is expected to get going in August.
“It’s pretty simple, it’s back to work. I have to do everything I can to put on weight and I have to shoot a bunch of pucks,” concluded Zimmer. “I also need to work on my confidence, that’s a big thing.”
Zimmer adds that he’s not trying to put pressure on himself heading into that camp; however, “If I play my own game, I have a good feeling that I can make it,” said Zimmer.