Buzzing on Yahoo Sports

Buzzing The Net

Kelowna Rockets’ Myles Bell finding his groove up front

Myles Bell (Marissa Baecker)When Kelowna Rockets head coach Ryan Huska told Myles Bell he is going to move him from the back end to on the wing, the 6-foot, 210-pounder didn't know what to think.

"It really made me wonder when I was moved up to forward," says the 19-year-old Bell. "Whether they weren't happy with my defensive play crept into my mind. But I also knew we had a lot of good defencemen. I still wasn't quite sure why I was the guy chosen to be moved to forward."

As reported by Warren Henderson of Kelowna Capital News, Huska didn't put Bell on forward because he wasn't happy with his performance on the blueline, rather because the Rockets needed some offensive help and could afford to move up one of their defenders.

"When we lost J.T. Barnett (to injury) on opening weekend, we felt we needed an older, offensive guy to move up front," said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. "Myles went up there and hasn't complained. For whatever reason, he developed immediate chemistry with Colton and Dylen and has continued to play very well ever since."

A defenseman most of his playing life, Huska said Bell has thrived in his new role.

"I've liked him more up front than on defense, and he's really excited about contributing as a forward," Huska added. "He's putting the team before himself and it's working out well. He's a very strong guy and when he get the puck down low, he's doing good things with it, whether he's passing or shooting."

After scoring nine goals and 24 points in 19 games on the wing, one would think it is business as usual for Bell up front. However, prior to this season, Bell didn't play forward since his peewee days.

"I don't think I've played forward since peewee," says Bell. "It was a very long time ago. I didn't think I'd change positions at this age."

Bell isn't the first player to have success up front after being a long-time blueliner. The Toronto Maple Leafs chose to move Wendel Clark from defence to forward after drafting the former Saskatoon Blade first overall in 1985. Clark's NHL point total of 330 goals and 564 points in 793 games suggest it worked out to his benefit.

A major reason for Bell's success is the instant chemistry he generated with Nashville Predators second-rounder Colton Sissons and overager Dylen McKinlay. The trio has combined for 24 goals and 60 points throughout the Rockets' first 19 games.

"We started clicking in our first practice together," says Bell. "We have great chemistry going. We make each other better out there."

Bell still spends some time on the back end, though. He goes back to the blueline on Kelowna's power play. Of his 24 points, one goal and six helpers came from the man advantage.

Now that he is sitting 11th in the Dub in points, Bell doesn't want to go back to a full-time defenceman. The Calgary, AB., native wants to stick in his new offensive role.

"I want to stay up front," says Bell. "As long as we're winning and I'm scoring, I think it makes sense for me to stay where I am. I'm happy with how things worked out."

Bell, who went unselected in the past two drafts, was invited to the New York Rangers' prospect development camp last summer. Obviously, earning an NHL contract is a major goal for him. But he isn't focusing on it.

"I'm just focusing on the team right now," says Bell. "If I can keep on scoring to help the team win, I'll be happy. Tryouts and contracts will come with my team's success."

Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

Follow Yahoo Canada Sports

Yahoo! Sports Authors

Regular Contributors:

Cam Charron, Kelly Friesen