It’s funny how some things work out.
Darian Long didn’t like hockey when he was younger but just kind of followed his brother into it when he was six years old. Eventually, he came around to it though.
“It’s fun hitting people,” said the 18-year-old from Prince George, with a simple shrug.
It’s not a surprise from a kid who’s favourite NHL player is Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals. They both are chippy and gritty in their style of play.
However, this year he has taken on a more offensive role, averaging a point per game. In 27 games he’s had 11 goals and 17 assists under his belt, along with 99 penalty minutes which suggests that maybe not all leopards can’t change all their spots.
Long, who has been with the Wranglers for two seasons now, is also wearing an ‘A’.
“It’s definitely a change for me,” he said about his new role as a leader. “I’ve never worn a letter for a team but I mean, I just kind of follow Kolby [Page, the team captain] and he’s got some experience with it so I take some tips from him. I try to show some guys how this league is and how we want to play – hard and hitting.”
Long has taken the team’s newest signing under his wing, Tristan Walz, due to their similar playing style.
“He’s definitely vocal in the locker room and when the guys need to hear something, he’s not afraid to them the way it is,” said Page about Long’s presence in the locker room.
The forward, who admitted he never could skate backwards very well, came to the 100 Mile House Wranglers in the 2017-18 season. He finished the season with 17 goals and 18 assists in 47 games.
He also had a good run in the playoffs where he scored a goal and four assists in 11 games.
Of course, one game sticks to Long.
“It was a do or die game. Going in triple overtime, of course, the nerves are up and when we scored [Julien Dewey] the place was pretty loud and it was exciting,” he said about Game 6 of last year’s divisional final where the Wranglers came from behind to force Revelstoke into a Game 7.
Long is hoping to get a championship under his belt before he leaves the Wranglers and he isn’t sure yet if this will be his last season or not.
“I have said every year at the end [of the season] ‘this is it, I’m done,’ but then July and August come around and you’re like ‘work sucks, let’s go play hockey,’” he said. “After hockey I’m probably just going back to Prince George, find a trade and work my life away.”