Young Scot aiming for the big show

Ayrshire lad Aiden Wilson could be on a pathway to the NHL (PHOTO: Alan Wilson)

Every young ice hockey player dreams of making their mark in the NHL and for young Scottish player Aiden Wilson, the possibility could be very much in the pipeline.

The 15-year-old, from Saltcoats in Ayrshire, has just signed for Utica Comets Juniors, an affiliate of Vancouver Canucks where the sky is the limit for the youngster, who’ll be playing AAA Tier 1 for them next season.

And the youngster revealed how he’s got a great move that could help him follow the routes of fellow drafter Brits Tony Hand, Colin Shields and Liam Kirk.

“I got an agent in the summer and he helped me plan out what I was going to do during the season,” Aiden said.

“I’d been in Canada and had to come back, so he was out there, helping me look for a team and he found me one in Utica.

“He sent out videos and information about me and Utica were interested so I finally signed with them at the start of May.

“I’d played in Toronto for the last season playing in a sports academy and it’s one where Connor McDavid and many other NHL players have played in the past so it was a good experience.

“There’s no timeline on when I can move over yet because of the virus, but I know some of the rinks have been opening in preparation for the season so hopefully things will start as normal.”

When he’s not in Canada, Aiden has been icing for Kilmarnock in their junior set-up (PHOTO: Alan Wilson)

The move is an exciting one for him after returning from Toronto just a few weeks ago, playing for Kilmarnock Blizzard, the Under 16 side, to keep him going.

It goes without saying Aiden’s parents, dad Alan and mum Debbie are incredibly proud of their son as he takes the next step in what looks to be a very promising career.

And it won’t be the first time he moves to another part of the world, living a life that many his age can only dream of.

Alan said: “Aiden stayed with a billet family in Toronto last year, but in Utica, they’re taking more of an involvement with it and it’s more organised.

“The schooling and the billet family is being handled at their end and we speak to someone there who is helping us with that.  Of course, with the pandemic, it’s taking longer than normal.

“He’s been to Canada a few times and done a few camps at Okanagan in Penticton, plus he was invited to a WHL showcase a couple of years ago.

“But last year, it was the biggest thing when the NHL posted the video of his goal in the Scottish Cup Final and that’s my favourite thing to be honest.

WATCH: Check out the video that got the attention of the NHL when Aiden scored for Kilmarnock against Kirkcaldy in last year’s Scottish Cup Final

“He’s got a good coach in Andy Anderson at Kilmarnock, who’s been great with Aiden and the club have given him tremendous support in allowing him to come back when the season in Canada finishes.

Debbie added: “We’re immensely proud and it’s all his hard work that’s got him there. At the end of the day, we’re just the taxi drivers, but Aiden has to put the work in on and off the ice.”

Like everything else right now, life is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, which means sportsmen and women have to be a little more creative when it comes to maintaining their fitness.

Aiden has been doing just that, telling us what he’s been up to keep himself sharp for when he can board that flight to Utica and from what mum and dad revealed, the neighbours will be counting the days

He said: : “I returned to Kilmarnock after we had been knocked out of the play-offs.  I played in their youth team to keep me going before the shutdown happened, but only managed a couple of games.

“I’ll go down to the beach too and use a parachute to slow me down and really working on leg strength to get me faster.

“I’ve been doing as much exercise as I can during the lockdown, going out running and shooting pucks in the garden.”

Aiden with ice hockey legend Don Cherry (PHOTO: Alan Wilson)

Alan added: “It’s not just a few pucks, it’s about 500 odd pucks a day in the one go.”

While the move to Utica gives Aiden the chance for more exposure, Alan revealed there has been interest already in him with a view to getting him drafted to the NHL within the next couple of years.

There’s lots to do first before that happens of course, but all going well, could very well be a realistic possibility for Aiden if his career trajectory continues to ascend.

Alan said: “As things stand, Aiden will go to Utica for a year and if he does well, he qualify for another season.

“But I’ve had a couple of contacts by a few teams and I’ve had one coach that’s looking for his details with a view to possibly getting him drafted next year.

“Although he would be lowdown in the draft, people are wanting the rights for him already.  I think it’s hilarious personally, but it’s a pathway to the NHL and if he has a good season in Utica, we can see what opportunities opens up.  

“It’s all down to him and he has a chance to get himself noticed over there. We’ll have to go with the flow and see where this takes us.”

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