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2012 Heat Training Camp Guide: Dark Horses

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames


The Abbotsford Heat have several players coming into camp that could be on the cusp of a career year. Injuries hampered Carter Bancks and James Martin last year while the transition from the WHL to the AHL didn't go as smoothly as Ryan Howse would have hoped. But all three players have the skill set and determination to rebound nicely in the 2012-13 campaign.

GP: 55 | GOALS: 2 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 10
PIM: 57 | +/-: 3

CARTER BANCKS - Two years ago, Carter Bancks was off to a red-hot start. He scored his first professional goal in the Heat's 2010-11 season opener - a 3-2 win - and recorded 19 points in 29 games. Then his rookie year came to a grinding halt when he suffered a concussion. He missed 51 games as a result but hoped he would be able to pick up right where he left off when the 2011-12 season started.

However, the injury bug wasn't done with him. Bancks played just 55 games with the Heat last year as he was forced to sit out with various maladies. He ended up with two goals and eight points to his name but was a highly versatile player for the coaching staff. He was utilized on all four lines, played on both the power play and penalty kill and provided leadership in the locker room.

At the Flames 2012 development camp, Bancks looked like a season veteran among his fellow prospects and showed off the skills and tenacity that led the team to sign him to a two-way deal in the summer of 2011. He noted he was working on strength training throughout the summer, aiming to add more muscle on his 5-foot-9 frame. Getting stronger will greatly benefit his feisty style of play and will help rejuvenate his offensive game


GP: 39 | GOALS: 6 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 9
PIM: 10 | +/-: -8

RYAN HOWSE - Ryan Howse's first season in the AHL didn't go the way he had planned.

Coming off a 51-goal season with the Chilliwack Bruins (WHL), Howse thought he would play a key role for the Heat when it came to offensive production but the coaching staff felt his conditioning wasn't where it should have been.

The organization chose to keep Howse out of the lineup for a month and focused solely on his conditioning. He worked extensively with Mike Thompson, the Heat's strength and conditioning coach, to work on his fitness level. They not only worked on his training regimen and getting him back into shape, they also worked on his nutrition plan and ensuring his diet was in check.

He got back into the lineup in early December and the coaches worked with him on rounding out his all-around game. In February, he scored his first professional goal in against the Houston Aeros - a milestone he described as "incredible" - and added five more before the regular season came to close.

He's taken the knowledge he gained throughout the course of the 2011-12 campaign and worked hard in the off-season to ensure he's 100 per cent ready for training camp. Given his offensive instincts and skill level, Howse could very easily become one of the Heat's top producers this year.


GP: 28 | GOALS: 2 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 3
PIM: 23 | +/-: -13

JAMES MARTIN - Blueliner James Martin's first professional season saw him suit up for a mere 28 games due to a lingering thumb injury. He also sat as a healthy scratch during times as the coaching staff felt he was struggling with making the transition from the WHL to the AHL.

With a year of experience under his belt, Martin has a better idea of how to approach the year and will be looking to make an impact on the backend as soon as the season starts.

While he isn't known for producing big offensive numbers, Martin boasts a hard, accurate shot that can handcuff netminders. During his final season with the Kootenay Ice, he scored a career-high 11 goals and 29 points and the coaching may look to him play a bigger part when it comes to offence from the defence corps.

Martin caught the Flames organization's eye during the 2011 development camp. He was attending on a tryout-agreement and his play there earned him an invite to the 2011 Young Stars Tournament in Penticton. After seeing him playing against other top prospects and looking very comfortable whilst doing so, the Flames invited him to their main training camp and signed him to a three-year, two-way entry level deal on Sept. 22, 2011.

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