Colton Aikens spent a season with the Castlegar Rebels during the 2020-21 season, playing in three games. Following that season, the Briercrest, Sask., product returned home to play for Briercrest College in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. He produced four goals and 10 points in 16 games as a rookie. He’s in his third season and one of the ACAC’s top point producers.
Colton and his coach Sam Klassen answered questions about his season.
KIJHL: How do you feel you have been playing this season?
CA: Pretty well. I’ve gotten a quicker start points-wise than in the past. Points are tough to come by in the ACAC. It’s a pretty competitive league. (Aikens is currently third with 17 points in 12 games.)
KIJHL: What is the talent level like in that league?
CA: A lot of guys on our team played Junior A or Major Junior, and it’s the same with the other teams. The league is quick with lots of hitting and players have really high IQs.
KIJHL: You are among the league leaders in points, what are the reasons behind your offensive production?
CA: It’s just our team this year. We have such a great buy-in and our whole team is firing on all cylinders. (Aikens has set a new career-high in points for a season, and accomplished it in half the games. In 52 career ACAC games, Aikens has 43 points. Briercrest is currently second in the standings with a 9-3 record and 25 points.)
KIJHL: How did your lone season with the Rebels help you make the transition you did into the ACAC?
CA: Not playing games was tough, but we still went on the ice every single day, and we were focused on improving ourselves rather than preparing for games. We did more individual drills and in the gym, you could lift heavy and build a lot of strength. That was really big on getting better individually.
KIJHL: What do you like about the way Colton is playing this season?
Coach Klassen: The best thing we’ve seen from him this year is consistency and adding some grit. He has always been a highly skilled player with a great shot, good vision and hands. This year we’ve seen consistency in his ability to compete and play with grit. That has opened the ice for him and his teammates and made him a very tough opponent to play against. He’s having a fantastic year.
KIJHL: Was there anything you asked him to work on during the off-season to help him continue his improvement?
CK: We talked about adding strength and muscle and keeping it dynamic so that he could play that gritty game with his skillset. What I think about with players that are highly skilled – if they are as a coach would say soft and high skilled – they are not always hard to play against. You can be gritty and a skilled player. That’s a defenceman’s worst nightmare
Briercrest College has other Rebels alumi in goalie Dawson Rattai, Jaedon Little, Zach Ashworth, and Joshua Wiens.