KAMLOOPS — Since Garrett Pilon came into the Western Hockey League, scoring three goals in his first two games two years ago against Kelowna, he's only gotten better.
It got his name called in the third round, 87th overall, in the 2016 NHL Draft by Washington, where he spent a lot of time during training camp.
"It was pretty surreal. I think it was a great opportunity. I was really grateful to get that. It was pretty crazy going to the Bell Centre and being able to play in front of fans," said Pilon.
Pilon showed well in that one preseason game, his first NHL action against the Canadiens, playing 12 minutes with one shot.
"I was really impressed with Garrett Pilon. He wasn't intimidated at all. I thought he made some really good little plays."
That was Capitals head coach Barry Trotz after the game, praising the 19 year old.
"It was obviously a nice thing to hear," noted Pilon. "You're always unsure when you're going into those types of situations. It's a new field of play, so you want to know how you're doing. So to hear that was pretty good. I was between two really good players, Tom Wilson and Brett Connolly, and they really helped a lot."
Pilon said it was a thrill to meet players like Alex Ovechkin.
"The first couple meetings, you're in awe a bit," he said. "You see him, he's a lot bigger in person, that's for sure. But they're people. All good people. They're all good teammates. They go out of their way to help the young guys."
Pilon learned more about how to approach the game like a pro and the preparation that goes into playing in the big leagues.
"I think one thing is always strength. I think for me, it's been about getting stronger," noted Pilon, who listed as 187 pounds. "There's a step up here where I feel I've got stronger for the Dub. At the same time, you go there and it's another step up. Those are men and those guys work out 24/7 it seems like. They always put in extra work."
"That's something you want to bring back here and bring back to the team, and hopefully other guys will maybe put in more also."
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