They just turned 16-years old earlier this month and are two of the youngest players in the eight-team, Ontario-based, junior-level, Canadian International Hockey League.
Just a season removed from the Soo Source For Sports AA midget team, twin brothers Darian Pilon and Drake Pilon have made the jump all the way up to the Batchewana Attack of the junior A CIHL.
Skilled and hockey smart, the Pilon brothers also have serious snap, crackle and pop to them with an aggressive style that adds to their point-producing abilities.
With Soo Source For Sports in 2013-2014, Darian led the team in scoring with 30 goals, 30 assists, 60 points in 36 games, just ahead of Drake, who posted 28-31-59 numbers in 33 outings. Both averaged more than two penalty minutes per game.
Batchewana head coach Denny Lambert, who played and coached in the Ontario Hockey League over an 11-year period with the Soo Greyhounds between a 500-game marathon as a National Hockey League journeyman, can’t say enough about how the Pilons have impressed him as 5-foot-10, 1998 birth-year forwards in a CIHL that is laden with older players.
Likewise, the twin terrors say they chose Batchewana and the CIHL over the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and the Great North Midget Hockey League because of the opportunity to play for Lambert.
Appearing on the most-recent edition of the Hockey North Show which airs Wednesdays from 5-6 p.m. on ESPN 1400 Radio, live from the Service Grill on Korah Road, the brothers were gushing about playing for the no-nonsense Lambert.
“He’s a great coach,” Darian said of Denny. “His practices are amazing, they are up-tempo and challenging. Playing for Denny is going to help me become a much-better hockey player.”
Drake has similar feelings about playing for Lambert.
“I am in the best shape I have ever been and it’s because of the way Denny pushes us in practice and makes us work,” said Drake. “I love playing for him. I am so happy to have this opportunity to play for someone who coached in the OHL and made the NHL because he worked hard and did not give up. He is a really good role model for all of us.”
Despite being the youngest players on the Attack, the Pilons say they feel comfortable and at home.
“It’s a very close-knit team,” said Darian. “We are always doing things as a team away from the rink.”
Having played seven pre-season games without a loss and starting out the early going of the regular season undefeated, the Attack — which plays its home games at Rankin Arena on the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie on Batchewana First Nation land — has the appearances of being a CIHL powerhouse thanks to the efforts of Lambert, team president-director of hockey operations David Maciuk and scouts Jimmy Casola and Charly Murray.
THANKSGIVING DAY GAME
The Attack takes its 1-0 record into a Thanksgiving day, Monday afternoon game against the 0-2 Sudbury Royals.
Game time is 1 p.m. at Rankin Arena.