Prospect Profile: Peyton Kettles
Peyton Kettles’s love for hockey came naturally. Stoked by a neighbour and his teenaged sons, Kettles found a home on the ice from a young age.
“He basically taught me how to skate,” Kettles said. “He had kids that were early teens when I was little and they were like my best friends growing up. When I started skating I just fell in love with it and wanted to do it every day.”
Kettles also had an influence in his own home as his dad, Kyle, spent three years in the Western Hockey League before getting drafted by the Nashville Predators in 1999.
“He let me choose what I wanted to do, but when I said I wanted to play hockey he definitely helped me out a lot,” Kettles said. “He’s taught me lots. He still helps me today after games, telling me what I’m doing well and things I can do better. He really helped me with my decision to go to the WHL or the NCAA.
Kyle Kettles was the starting goaltender for the Medicine Hat Tigers from 1999-2001 before being traded to Moose Jaw for the 2001-2002 season. All told he played 163 games in the WHL before three seasons in the pro ranks, split between the ECHL and AHL.
Despite the fact that Kettles won’t turn 16 until September 1 he already stands at nearly 6’4”. The age-old tale of hitting a major growth spurt in his early teens has seen him steadily grow over the past few years.
“I think it was around grade 8 that I started growing,” he said. “I was around 5’5” and then I grew to about 5’10”. It seems like I’ve grown a few inches every year since then.”
The 2020-21 season was supposed to be his first chance to play at the U15 level, but the pandemic limited him to just three games. He wasn’t about to let that stunt his development, however.
“My dad went out and bought a bunch of gym equipment for me and my brother to use,” Kettles said. “He got a shooting pad so we had a gym in our garage where we could workout and get stronger. We spent a lot of time shooting pucks in the driveway that year too.”
With minor hockey able to return to a normal schedule for 2021-22, Kettles and his family made the decision to attend RINK Hockey Academy in Winnipeg.
“I think we just figured it would be better for my development,” he said. “Getting the chance to play against the top players and having coaches and trainers help you every day. It helped me a lot, I don’t think I would be where I am if I didn’t go to RINK. The really prepared us well for every game. Sometimes they would push us really hard in practices and in the gym and sometimes they would take it easier on us if they knew we had a tough schedule coming up.”
Kettles’s transition to the CSSHL went as smoothly as it could, posting 35 points (9-26-35) in 30 games during the 2021-22 season.
He also served as the team’s captain, and opportunity he relished.
“I think it was just my hard work on and off the ice to just show everyone what they have to do to be successful,” Kettles said of why he thought he was named captain. “I’m not a very vocal guy, I’m starting to be more vocal now. I always wanted to help guys if they had any questions.”
Being a tall, strong, right-shot defenceman, it’s no surprise Kettles had plenty of conversations with WHL teams over the course of the 2021-22 season.
“It’s very exciting but it’s also very nerve wracking,” Kettles said of speaking to teams over the season. “You’re talking to someone who could be your future general manager or your future coach. So there’s a lot of nerves involved, but it’s really exciting to get to talk to teams like that.”
With the WHL Prospects Draft back to it’s normal early-May date last year, Kettles was at school during the event. Though instead of trying to sneak looks at his phone during class, Kettles was able to fully watch the draft with his teammates and classmates.
When the Broncos traded down from 5th to 6th overall, the nerves started to set in for Kettles.
“I was really nervous when they were picking,” he admitted. “It was just a relief when I heard my name called. The whole room went crazy, kids were screaming down the hall.”
He admits he had some thoughts about going the NCAA route, but felt the WHL was the better way for him to go with his goals.
Just over a week after the draft Kettles officially signed with the Broncos and was able to share that moment with Owen Pickering who joined him in Winnipeg for a photo.
“That was really exciting, he came in and was really nice to me,” he said. “I look up to him a lot, he’s the same type of player that I am but with more offence. I’m trying to watch him as much as possible and learn from him.”
Attending his first training camp last fall, Kettles had the chance to jump on the ice at the InnovationPlex for the first time with members of the Broncos.
Unfortunately he wasn’t able to get into and pre-season games due to an injury suffered during camp.
“There was a guy that was trying to go after a bunch of other guys,” Kettles said. “I was just sticking up for a teammate and then he came after me, so I just dropped the gloves.”
Kettles broke two fingers on his right hand during the ensuing scrap, missing the following six weeks before being cleared to return to game action.
Kettles made his season debut for the U18 Rink Hockey Academy Winnipeg team on October 14 and would play 17 games recording 13 points (1-12-13) before the Broncos made their way to Winnipeg on December 1.
The following night Kettles made his WHL debut, something he had known about for a week in advance.
“I found out about a week before,” Kettles said. “He told me I’d be joining the team in Winnipeg and Brandon. I saw how fast the game was and it was blowing my mind. I was obviously really nervous but after the first couple shifts I think I got those nerves out and was able to just play my game.”
Kettles played that night in Winnipeg and the following game in Brandon before returning to his U18 team.
Two months later he was able to head to the East Coast where he represented Team Manitoba at the Canada Winter Games, an event that only comes around every four years.
“It was unreal. The group that we had, we had something special there, just unfortunately couldn’t pull it off,” he said. “P.E.I. was great, everybody there was great. The staff, the team, every team that we played against was full of the best of the best. It was really special getting a chance to go there.”
Manitoba lost their quarterfinal matchup with Team B.C.. Kettles recorded two assists in five games at the event.
After the CSSHL season concluded, Kettles was able to return to Swift Current to join the team for the final week of practice during the regular season. Something he believes was extremely beneficial.
“I think it was huge,” he said. “Not only practicing, but just seeing what everyone does throughout the day. What time practice is, when they go to school, all those things that I think are really important for us to see how things are done.”
Kettles’s focus in the summer is on getting as strong as he can to prepare for his role on the Broncos blueline in 2023-24, a role he believes will mostly be centred around keeping the puck out of Swift Current’s net.
“As a 16-year-old defenceman you’re not going to get everything right away,” he said. “I know I have to work for everything. Defence is always before offence for me. If I’m not scoring but I’m defending well, I’m fine with that. I think I can be a good defender and help out on the penalty kill. I’ll leave all the offence to guys like Pickering.”