SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Jordan Kyrou has made his presence felt on the ice at the AT&T Center.
The Rampage's rookie forward leads the team in goals and points, tallying 25 points in 26 games this season. But for an Ontario native like Kyrou, who spent the majority of his playing days with the Sarnia Sting and Team Canada, the move to the Lone Star State for professional hockey brings a chance in culture -- and climate -- on and off the ice.
"The weather's a lot nicer here all year round," Kyrou said. "Obviously the transition to pro hockey is very different. Everybody's a lot stronger and a little bit faster, so it's taking a little bit of adjusting. You've just got to do the little things right, so that's one thing I'm working on down here."
During his final season in Sarnia, Kyrou was named team captain, and was awarded the Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy -- honoring the OHL's top-scoring right winger. The biggest reason for his success on the ice: speed.
"He can really dictate the pace of the play," explained Rampage defenseman Chris Butler. "He's hard to defend because of that. He forces other teams to back off and creates separation and a lot of chances for his linemates."
In training camp with the St. Louis Blues, Kyrou made enough of an impression to make the opening night roster. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 4 against the Winnipeg Jets, and in 11 games with the Blues this season, he's scored a goal and an assist. But since his reassignment to the Rampage in mid-December, Kyrou has been on a tear, notching a franchise-record 12-game point streak.
"I think it was great to see the attitude that he had," Butler said. "He comes back here, continues to work hard, put together that point streak. I think he's taken a huge step forward. With a guy of his body type and frame, he's learned how to use it a little bit better, he's learned how to protect pucks. He's been more responsible in the defensive zone. If you're going to play at the NHL level, you have to be responsible in all three zones, and he's done a much better job of that."
"I think he's more confident and he's found what he needs to do at this level to have success," said head coach Drew Bannister. "That took him some time, but obviously he's figured that out and played very well for us. He's utilizing his speed, playing on the inside. He's not as much of a perimeter player as he was when he first got to us. He's been using his linemates well, and they've been working well together."
Kyrou's play has earned plenty of acclaim on the national level. He was chosen as AHL Rookie of the Month for December, the first Rampage rookie to receive that honor, and he was also selected to play in the AHL All-Star Classic -- impressive marks for an incredible rookie season.
"It's a huge honor," Kyrou said. "Anytime you win something like that, it's incredible, so it's exciting for me. It should be a fun experience. I'm going there with all of the other guys from other teams, and they're all really good players."
As of Sunday, Kyrou and teammate Jordan Nolan were recalled to the Blues. The Rampage are back on home ice this Tuesday night hosting the Rockford IceHogs at 7 p.m.
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