Coyotes prospect Michael Stone
recently completed his fourth and final season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League by playing in the 2010 Memorial Cup tournament. Calgary, which won the WHL championship, lost in the Cup semifinal, but more on that below.
Stone, whom the Coyotes selected with the 69th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, was Calgary’s top scoring defenseman this season and set career highs with 21 goals and 44 assists in 69 games.
“I think I had a lot more confidence the past two years and that helped me a lot,” said Stone, who stands 6-feet-4 and weighs 207 pounds. “I remember my first year in Calgary and I didn’t have the confidence that I have now. Hopefully, having that confidence will help me continue to play like I did this year and last year in years to come.”
Stone, 19, evolved into solid two-way player in the WHL, and he is eager to take the next step in his career.
|Michael Stone and the Calgary Hitmen won the WHL championship/Ed Chenoweth Trophy this season. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/Courtesy Calgary Hitmen Hockey Club.) |
“I think I can play at both ends of the rink,” Stone said. “I can shut down the (opponent’s) top line and I can jump up into the play and play on the power play… Obviously I’m hoping to make the jump to the next level next year. To do that I’m going to have to come in and have a good camp and prove that I can play with the older guys.”
First up for Stone, who signed an entry-level contract with the Coyotes on Dec. 9, will be another trip to Arizona for the team’s prospect development camp in July. Stone attended the camp in 2009 and found it beneficial. Climbing Camelback Mountain with the other attendees and wearing the gear of the NHL team that drafted him for the first time, he said, were among the highlights.
Stone, who notched five goals and 15 assists in 23 WHL playoff games this season, said he liked playing in the Memorial Cup tournament because its round-robin format demanded constant concentration and focus.
“It was different than playing a team in a seven-game series because every game meant everything at that point,” Stone said. “You couldn’t take any shifts off and you couldn’t take any games off or it would come back to haunt you in the long run. I thought that we did an OK job of making sure that we played hard. Obviously, we had some lapses in the semifinal game vs. Brandon and it came back to haunt us.”
|With his brother Mark in the background, Michael Stone (center) shakes hands with Brandon's Brayden Schenn after the Memorial Cup semifinal. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images.) |
Brandon rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat Calgary 5-4 in overtime in the semifinal, which was a family affair for Stone because his younger brother Mark is a winger for the Wheat Kings. Michael entered the game with bragging rights over Mark because Calgary defeated Brandon in the WHL playoffs in 2009 and again this year.
This time around, however, Mark Stone got the last laugh.
“Even though we lost, it was a fun experience playing against him,” Michael said. “You try to think of him as just another player but you realize he’s still going to be your brother at the end of the game, so you’ve got to be careful what you do out there.”
Brandon, by the way, lost 9-1 to Windsor in the championship game. EDITOR’S NOTE:
to read more about the Memorial Cup semifinal game between Calgary and Brandon.