Jake Mykitiuk instills fear into his Prince George Cougars teammates when he walks into the dressing room.
I think most of the boys on the team are a little bit scared of me; Im so big, said the five-foot-six, 150-pound sophomore Western Hockey League forward, sporting a shiner these days after using his face to block a puck in a game a few weeks ago.
Its not his size, or face, that has others shaking out their skates before stepping into them but his sense of humour.
Its nice to keep it a little light in the room at times, said Mykitiuk. I know when its game time, its game time and youve got to focus, but at the same time theres a time and place where you can joke around or have a couple jokes on guys.
Mykitiuk wouldnt share all of his tricks or brag about the jokes that do work, I dont like to reveal it; its secret information, but he did offer up a few tricks junior hockey players have been know to play on each other.
We dont mind making a couple of prank calls every once in a while, said the product of St. Albert, Alta. We like keeping it low key. Its happened. I dont want to get into too much detail. We like to just call and pretend were a different person and mess around with their heads.
One trick that Mykitiuk is alleged to have played was on Cougars rookie defenceman Raymond Grewal, who reached to get his shin pads off the top shelf of his locker one day at practice and wound up all wet.
It definitely wouldnt be me though because I cant reach up there to the shin pads but its definitely a good trick in the league, said Mykitiuk about filling the pads with water.
Cougars head coach Dean Clark admits if something odd happens in the dressing room everyone usually looks around for Mykitiuk.
Jakes a funny guy, said Clark. If theres a joke played hes usually the one thats playing it on somebody. We all get along and we have some fun. This is supposed to be fun.
Mykitiuk said his parents never taught him to pull off practical jokes, though he did grow up in a house where he had to battle for attention with three sisters.
His teammates from last season also taught Mykitiuk a few things during his rookie season, when he recorded six goals and 15 points in 69 games for the Cougars.
Last year the older guys got me with a really good one right before practice one day they convinced me to wear a suit to the rink for practice, he said. It was all fun.
Mykitiuk had two assists but was still waiting for his first goal before Tuesdays game against the Calgary Hitmen.
I think I need to start getting back to the basics and moving my feet and making some smart plays, said Mykitiuk about his on-ice performance. I think Im panicking a little with the puck.
But as long as the Cougars are doing well Mykitiuk will unleash his tensions in the dressing room, or perhaps on unsuspecting teachers at College Heights secondary.
I like to focus up in school and try to get good grades but I like to mess around a little bit, he smiled.