Rem Pitlick knew he had put on weight before he stepped on the scale during the preseason for the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks.
Pitlick just wasn’t sure how much. He had weighed 169 pounds at the end of the 2014-15 season. His focus in the offseason was adding muscle to his 5-foot-7 frame, but he never bothered to weigh himself.
When he eventually got on that scale and a number popped up, it caught him by surprise. He weighed 195 pounds, 26 pounds more than his last weigh-in.
“I was like, ‘Oh, 195, that’s a little big,’” the 18-year-old Pitlick said following his team’s morning skate for the 2016 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Ralston, Nebraska on Tuesday. “I kind of expected myself to feel a little bit slower knowing that I was 195 pounds. I feel fast and feel better than I would think if I was 195 pounds.”
The added weight, which Pitlick largely credited to electric stimulation and time in the weight room, has paid off for Pitlick. He not only feels stronger on the puck and up against bigger opponents, but he has found himself to be faster.
“It’s nice to be able to play a little heavier, just having the extra weight in the corners,” said Pitlick, a left-handed-shooting center. “At the same time, being able to play more of a speed game as well.”
On top of all that, Pitlick is playing at a different level offensively. A season after producing 16 points in 47 games for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, he has taken off offensively. He is tied at a USHL-leading 35 points and leads the league outright with 19 goals through 24 games this season.
Pitlick felt his shot had improved and his additional strength and speed benefited him offensively, but mostly he gave the credit to playing on a line with Collin Adams, a North Dakota recruit, and Chris Klack.
“I think I’m just fortunate to play with some great players in Collin Adams and Chris Klack,” said Pitlick, who is from Plymouth, Minnesota. “I think we’ve found some chemistry and it’s just been a lot of fun being creative and making plays with them. … Not only my game, but I think our line, I think we’re pretty creative. We like to try different things and play offensively. Sometimes it’s a little riskier, but that kind of happens sometimes.”
Pitlick as an offensive forward is a complete contrast to who his father, Lance Pitlick, was as a defenseman in the NHL. Lance compiled all of 49 points in 393 career NHL games.
Pitlick doesn’t remember much about watching his dad play growing up, but he has gone back to view some clips.
“Pretty big hitter, a little bit of a goon,” Pitlick said of his dad’s playing style. “I know I wouldn’t like playing against him. I’d give him a couple hacks at the back of the shins. That’s for sure.
“Sometimes I wish either I was a defenseman or he was a forward, so he could give me a little more of an honest tip that way. He’s not exactly an offensive guy. I’ve run some questions by him, and he’s like I really don’t know how to approach that one because I wasn’t that type of player. I guess [he provides] more the mental aspect of the game. What it takes to get there, the hard work, the dedication, all that kind of stuff.”
Pitlick has also learned to appreciate how his dad never put pressure on him to succeed in the sport.
“My dad has obviously had a big influence,” Pitlick said. “He showed me the game and all that kind of stuff. At the same time, I hear a lot of stories of guys after games when they’re younger, they go into their car and their dad rips them, that kind of stuff. My dad’s never been that way. It’s all about having fun and enjoying the game and stuff like that. He’s like if you’re not enjoying this, why don’t you just quit.
“At the same time, he always helps me with stuff. I can always go to him with questions. He’s just there for me, doesn’t put any pressure on me, things like that.”
Pitlick will follow in his father’s footsteps and play at the University of Minnesota.
“Some kids like to get away from home,” Pitlick said. “I’m more kind of like to be close to home. That’ll be nice.”
Pitlick would also like to play in the NHL someday like his father, but it’s not something he’s focusing too much on at this point.
“Obviously I think everyone thinks of stuff like that, but it’s not something to get caught up in,” Pitlick said. “If it happens, great. It’s a dream that every hockey player has as a young kid. Great, if it happened. If it doesn’t, keep working hard, find another way.”
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