OKLAHOMA CITY - Kristians Pelss has enjoyed the ride these past few seasons. He’s been drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2010 NHL Entry draft, represented his country, Latvia, in the 2012 World Junior Championship, played in the 2012 Memorial Cup, began his professional career with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL and earned a call up to the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League.
After 13 games, two goals and three assists with the Thunder, Pelss may have found a new home with the Barons.
Through 16 games in the AHL with the Barons, Pelss has recorded eight points (1-7-8). He has shown marked improvement in his defensive game, turning around his -6 +/- rating with the Thunder, to a +4 with Oklahoma City. A 10-point difference in just three more games.
“It was a good time, playing in the East Coast (Hockey League),” said Pelss. “I got a good amount of workouts and it helped me, moving into the AHL and I think I’m playing better, starting to adjust to this league and I like here. It’s a good league, and I just try to get more ice and work hard.”
Pelss said the reason for his improvement is the upped level of competition he faces in Oklahoma City. Having to compete for ice time every practice has helped him improve his game.
“I work harder here because there are a lot of good players and it’s hard to earn a spot. You just need to play your best game every game, try hard and get a lot of ice time.”
Although Pelss says he wants to continue to improve his game, he has been pleased with certain aspects.
“I think I’m good for forechecks, maybe penalty killing and I’m more like… energy guy. I try to, on offense to get my partners the puck so they score. I think I could improve my defense play and penalty killing and maybe some offense too.”
The past few seasons have been a ride for Pelss, filled with moments to remember, such as representing his homeland on the world stage.
“It was a good time, play for country and my team (made me) a captain and it was honor for me. I enjoyed the time and I like to play there and it was a good time.”
Rivaling that moment, is another moment that Pelss will never forget. The first time he stepped onto the ice as a member of the Oklahoma City Barons and again, when he scored his first AHL goal.
“My first goal I think. It’s just a good time here and the first game I played (in Oklahoma City) was so exciting for me.”
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