The road to Nashville always goes through Milwaukee. It’s a phrase many Nashville Predators fans have been accustomed to hearing throughout the existence of the team. Colton Sissons has had to take this route, but the road through Milwaukee has been a fairly short one. In his first season out of junior hockey, Sissons has already played 13 games with the Predators and averaged over 10 minutes on the ice in his last five games.
“It’s awesome and a really good feeling to have,” said Sissons on coach Barry Trotz giving him an opportunity. “Especially coming in here being only 20 years old and being a younger guy, him having some faith in me feels really good.”
In his 13 games with Nashville this season, Sissons has already learned a lot about how big of a step it is to play in the NHL.
“You’ve got to be ready to play every night,” Sissons said about preparing for each game. “You’re playing against men that have been playing in the league for a long time, so it’s a challenge just to be ready for that battle every single night.”
Before one becomes a Nashville Predator, most players have to spend time seasoning in Milwaukee with the Admirals. Many of the players on Nashville’s current roster spent time with the Admirals before making it to the big club. This includes the likes of Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne and Roman Josi. With the way the system is set up, the Admirals have done well in preparing players in the Predators’ system for life in the NHL.
“It was my first year in pro, so it was a new experience in general for me,” said Sissons on playing in Milwaukee. “It’s a tough game down there. It’s a really challenging league and fortunately my coaches had some faith in me early on and I was able to produce and get a lot of confidence. As we know, confidence is just about everything in this game. It prepared me to make the step up here.”
During his time in junior hockey, Sissons was with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL), the same team that produced Shea Weber. The WHL is typically regarded as one of the more physical of the three leagues in the Canadian Hockey League and the result of that has been seen in Sissons’ play.
“It’s a pretty physical league compared to the OHL [Ontario Hockey League] or the Q [Quebec Major Junior Hockey League],” said Sissons on the physical play in the WHL. “I think the league itself was great. Especially in Kelowna, we played that style of hockey where I learned to really hone my game.”
With a rotation of injuries to the lineup, Sissons has been able to take advantage of the opportunity given to him. Although he only has two points in 13 games, his physical and responsible play has turned into more time on the ice and he hopes that he can continue to improve the way he plays.
“I want to get more confidence with the puck,” explained Sissons on what he wants to do with his game. “I want to make more plays. I’m used to being an impact player on my team in the past couple of years and I want to get to that level here. It’s coming but it’s a tough process.”
If he can continue to bulk up, be physical and make plays that continue to impress the coaching staff, look for Sissons to gain more ice time and possibly secure a spot on the roster for next season.