BRANDON -- Ivan Provorov's goal is to play in the NHL and he believes the Western Hockey League is the best way to get there.
The Brandon Wheat Kings' latest import made his debut with the WHL team on Friday as main camp opened at Westman Place.
A candidate for next year's NHL Draft, the 17-year-old Russian defenceman was chosen by Brandon with the 30th pick of this year's Canadian HockeyàLeague import draft. He arrived in the Wheat City a week ago and is quickly becoming comfortable with his new surroundings.
"Good teammates, good players, the atmosphere in the locker-room is great," said Provorov, who skated in some informal workouts with the veterans before training camp began. "I just think (the WHL is) the best junior league in the world. And (the teams play) a lot of games -- it's close to the NHL schedule -- with a lot of good players, so that's what pushed me to go here."
Provorov has a good international track record, having played for Russia at the world under-18 championship this spring and suiting up for his country again for a game against Canada at this summer's national junior team development camp in Quebec.
He also had a better idea than most imports what he was in for when he agreed to come to Brandon. Provorov has spent the past three years in North America, getting a taste of junior with the United States Hockey League's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders last season after two years with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights U-14 and U-16 programs in Pennsylvania.
"The game is similar, the lifestyle. It's easier (to adjust)," said Provorov, who had six goals, 13 assists and 32 penalty minutes in 56 games with the RoughRiders last season.
The strong-skating native of Yaroslavl should also be ready for the physical demands of the WHL, based on his size (6-0, 200 pounds) and his experience in the U.S., where Provorov said he loved adapting to a new style of hockey.
"It's more physical," he said. "You've got to move the puck faster, do everything quicker. You've always got to be ready because someone's going to come and hit you."
Provorov is one of three imports in training camp, joining wingers Richard Nejezchleb of the Czech Republic and Rihards Bukarts of Latvia. If Nejezchleb is sent back to Brandon by the New York Rangers, who selected him in this year's NHL draft, the Wheat Kings will have to move one of the players to get down to the WHL limit of two imports.
SECOND CHANCE: Michael Mylchreest is among those in training camp hoping to fill one of what should be two or three vacancies on the Brandon blue-line. What makes him different from the others is the 6-3, 200-pound Californian already has a couple of years of WHLàexperience.
Mylchreest played with the Prince George Cougars from 2011-13, recording nine assists and 29 penalty minutes in 116 games.
The 19-year-old spent last season with the Springfield Jr. Blues of the North American Hockey League, considered a Junior A Tier 2 league, a step below the USHL.
"I spent the year out of the (WHL) and learned about myself as a player and what the league's really all about," said Mylchreest, who had four goals, eight assists and 74 penalty minutes in 56 games with the Blues. "So it's an awesome opportunity to have a chance to come back in."
Mylchreest said he got his shot in Brandon due to his association with Wheat Kings director of player personnel Wade Klippenstein, who was with the Cougars when the lanky defenceman was there. Mylchreest said his key to being successful here is simple.
"I've just got to do what makes me a good player and just stick to what I am," Mylchreest said. "I'm not a flashy player at all. I've just got to do the simple things and do the things to help the team win."
-- The Brandon Sun