Meet Brian Kilburg.

Brian Kilburg is less than a month away from earning his economics degree from Minnesota State-Mankato. After he gets his diploma, he’ll embark on a very different task: Playing hockey for the Reign.

Coach Karl Taylor called the 6-foot-3 defenseman a player with “all the physical skills.”

“He loves to hit, he’s a very aggressive player,” Taylor said. “He plays hard and takes pride in what he does. We still have to teach him the correct pace for the pro game and how to make the correct reads.”

Kilburg, 25, gave Reign fans a bigger slice of what they can expect …

Describe your game:
My game is a defenseive defenseman, kind of a stay-at-home, physical type of guy. I can break the puck out and get the job done in our zone. I can see myself killing penalties as well. I was a aregular on the first PK unit (in college). Whenever there was a PK situation, I was out there right away, that was kind of one of my strong points.

Did you have other options in pro hockey?
I ha couple looks from the AHL and East Coast League right after the season was done, but I opted to stay in school and finish and get my degree because that was important to me. I ended up staying at school and I’m currently taking my last class right now; I will be done in three weeks. After school was done, and summer came, I kept getting calls from others. I really liked what coach Taylor brought to the table, what he had to say to me.

There were no calls, but there was a lot of talk — no chances of me leaving early.

Dan Knapp, Mike Howe and Jon Francisco all grew up playing hockey in Minnesota. Do you know any of them?
I know Mike Howe. I grew up playing summer hockey against him and played against him in high school. I knew him from that. I recognize Dan Knapp’s name; he played at Omaha.

Did you know coach Taylor prior to getting a call from him?
Not really. I just recently learned he coached one of my buddies, Charlie Kronschnabel, in Reading. That’s it.

The Kings have brought in a lot of big defensemen recently, especially through the draft — did that enter into your decision to join the organization?
I knew they had a couple guys who I played in college and juniors against. It’s nice they like the college kids. I played against Joe Piskula and Davis Drewiske in juniors and college. Alec Martinez. I worked out with Wayne Simmonds last year. I know (former Kings forward) Brady Murray, but he’s overseas. That’s about it.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.