The future of the Brandon Wheat Kings will be front and centre starting on August 28. That’s when the club begins its rookie camp at Westoba Place inside the Keystone Centre.
The two-day camp will wrap up on Thursday and that’s when the big boys come in as main camp kicks off on Friday, August 30.
One of the Wheat Kings most highly touted prospects is Tyson Zimmer. The flashy forward comes from the small community of Russell, Manitoba. Zimmer grew up watching Brandon games as less than two hours separate his home from Westoba Place.
On May 2, 2019, his dream of playing for the team he grew up watching became a little bit closer. He was drafted sixth overall by the Wheat Kings in the WHL Bantam Draft.
He was the second-highest Manitoban to hear their name picked after Conor Geekie went second overall to Winnipeg.
Now, the 14-year-old is ready for what will be a few of the biggest days in his young hockey career to date.
“I’m feeling pretty good heading in there,” said Zimmer. “It’s obviously an honour just to get this opportunity. I think the best part will be that I’ll be there.”
Back in his hometown of Russell for the summer months, not a day has gone past where Zimmer hasn’t counted down the minutes to the first drill next week.
“I’ve skated a little bit, but I’m really focusing on the off-ice aspect of the game,” he added. “It’s important that I get stronger and build up my cardio so I can be the best player I can be.”
When talking to Tyson in the past, he mentioned May 2 was a day he’ll never forget. That remains the case today. Ultimately, the job isn’t done until he’s making an everyday impact for the club and even at that point, the job won’t be done
“Yeah it’s awesome to get drafted high, but I’m not just going to make the team because of that,” he added. “I need to build up more skill, more power and just get better. I’ll be competing against 20-year-olds who are much bigger and I need to show what I can do.”
When main camp opens up August 30, up to 18 veterans will be back as they look to earn a spot on the team. Though he may only be 14, Tyson is ready for any challenge that comes his way.
“I think I’m ready for this. If I work my hardest, I should be good, I’m definitely not afraid,” he continued.
Being 14, Tyson is eligible to play just five games until his midget season finishes. After that, if Brandon so wishes, Tyson can play as many as they want.
“This is a big year for me. I obviously want to play those five games,” he added. “It’s going to be a good year. I’ll be able to play U18 full-time and that will allow me to develop even more and get better.”
Tyson played for the Okanagan Hockey Academy bantam prep team last season. He had 52 points (26G) in the regular-season and that success translated to playoff success. He had another two points (1G) in two playoff games.
In the 2017-18 season, Tyson played for the Parkland bantam Rangers where he first showed how much talent he has. He had 69 points (36G) in 34 regular-season games.
Also in that 2017-18 season, Zimmer tore it up overseas. He played in the World Selects Invitational tournament in Spain, where he had 17 points in nine games with the Draftday Hockey Selects U14 team. His team won that tournament by knocking off the Selects from Sweden 3-1.
In order to impress head coach Dave Lowry, general manager Darren Ritchie and the rest of the Wheat Kings organization, Tyson knows exactly what he needs to do.
“When I’m having success, I’m skating fast and moving the puck really well,” he concluded. “I always stress play in my own end as well. My shot is also important to me. I pride myself on making it accurate with a lot of power as well.”
Tyson has yet to confirm where he will play his midget hockey season this year.