He looked the part of an offensive weapon during training camp and the Western Hockey League preseason, but points have been difficult to come by for Red Deer Rebels rookie forward John Persson.
The swift Swede, however, is anything but frustrated with the fact that he has collected just two goals and two assists in 25 games. He is, after all, a mere 17 years of age and is still making the necessary adjustments to living and playing in a new country.
“It’s getting better and better. I’m starting to adjust to the game more and more,” he said on Wednesday. “Of course I want to have more points, but it still feels like I’m having some chances around the net a lot, so it’s not like I’m away from the net.
“I’m just thinking positive, so when I’m not scoring or making any points I’ll just do whatever the team needs me for. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Persson, who won’t celebrate his 18th birthday until May, is enjoying his new life in Red Deer and appreciates the company of his teammates.
“Yeah, I like it so far. The guys on the team are good,” he said. “We’re getting more like a team now, getting better and better.”
As for the everyday differences between Canada and his home country, Persson said he has detected one that is obvious.
“There’s a lot of difference, of course. The biggest one is everyone is more open to, like, taking care of you, and just being nice. When you go to see someone else the billets are so nice,” he noted.
At six-foot-two and 190 pounds, Persson hasn’t been troubled by the bump and grind of the major junior game.
“I played physical in Sweden, but physical in Sweden is just normal here,” he said. “I will play more and more physical during the year.”
Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin has seen a gradual progression with the young Swede.
“I think he’s taking steps. He’s certainly at his best when he’s using his size to his advantage,” said Wallin.
“He’s very physical and mature for his age and has decent speed, and he’s real good down in the corners and taking the puck to the net.
“He uses his size to his advantage that way.
“I know he’s feeling a little more comfortable now. Early on he really rushed his plays and maybe that’s because he was adjusting to the smaller ice, but he’s coming to realize that he often has a little more time then he thinks he has. He’s starting to slow the game down a bit and he’s making more plays with the puck and showing more poise.
“But really, the strength of his game and when he’s at his best, is when he’s moving his feet and finishing checks and using his size and strength down low. That’s what we like about his game. If he does that consistently he’s going to start to accumulate points.”
• Defenceman Colin Archer and forward Daulton Siwak have recovered from concussions and were cleared to engage in full-contact practice on Wednesday.
Both are expected to rejoin the Rebels for Friday’s game in Lethbridge, as are defenceman Justin Weller (ribs) and forward Josh Cowen (shoulder).
However, center Landon Ferraro is out indefinitely with a flare-up of a knee injury that caused him to miss 13 games earlier in the season. Ferraro is currently in Vancouver seeing a specialist.
The Rebels host the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Fans are asked to bring tuques and mitts for the Big 105/The Drive tuque toss.