PENTICTON, BC --
Don't let Carter Bancks
baby face, blonde hair and blue eyes fool you.
When he's on the ice, he's about as far away from innocent as you can get.
The scrappy left winger has endeared himself to his coaches, teammates, management and fans with his gritty, determined style of play that often agitates the opposition to no end.
"I have to play hard. I have to compete every shift," Bancks said. "If I change anything about that, if I try to become fancy and skilled and a little bit perimeter, I'm not a very successful player.
"I have to kind of walk the line, play on the edge and stay on the edge the whole game. I've got to compete. It's not like I go out there looking to fight to every night but just with the way I play, I can't back away from that. If it comes, it comes, and I'm willing."
Bancks is the kind of player is able to drive his opponents crazy with his play but also is very conscious about picking his points. He knows when to get in the opposition's face and when to take a step back.
"You don't want to be putting your team down, taking penalties. That's the biggest thing. In today's game, you've got to stay out of the box. Teams power plays are real good. If you're going to try to play that in-your-face game, you've got to be smart about it.
"You don't want to put your team down all night because that is on you if you lose that game."
The Marysville, BC native started off his first season in the AHL with a bang, leading the team offensively early. However, his promising campaign was derailed after he suffered a concussion that ended knocking him out of action for three months.
One would think the injuries he sustained last year would make him a bit more tentative when it comes to his style of play but that isn't the case. During the Flames first game at the 2011 Young Stars tournament, he dropped the gloves with Sharks rookie Ben Thompson.
"It's always in the back of your head that you had a concussion and stuff," he admitted. "You've got to be a little bit smarter about some of the things you do on the ice. But for the most part, I just have to continue to play the way I always have."
Despite only suiting up for 29 contests last season, the Flames brass were so impressed by what they saw in that short span that they offered Bancks a two-way deal this summer. General manager Jay Feaster has spoken glowingly about the 22 year-old and believes if Bancks continues to progress, he'll one day be a regular in the Flames lineup.
"When we signed Carter to an AHL deal last season, we told him if he went to Abbotsford and did everything that was asked of him, we would look to convert his AHL deal to an NHL contract," Feaster said after signing Bancks to a two-way deal. "Carter did everything we asked and then some, and he really has earned this new deal. We really like his work ethic and versatility and we consider him one of our bright young prospects who will play for us in Calgary one day."
Bancks is extraordinarily appreciative for everything the Flames did for him last year, stating their patience with his injuries woes eased his stress levels a great deal.
"They've been awesome with me with the concussion last year, just through everything last year they were awesome. They were very honest and very true to their word and I just tried to do everything I could to impress them.
"I've dreamed about getting an NHL contract for a long time. Last year, in the American League, I was just trying to do whatever I could to catch someone's eye and earn that NHL contract. I was absolutely thrilled that I was able to with Calgary."
Going forward, Bancks knows exactly what he wants out of the 2011-12 campaign.
"Just to be able to establish myself as a good all-around, two-way forward in the league. Stay healthy, knock on wood. Just come through training camp here and have the best camp I can. Every shift, try to do something to impress someone."
Given the determination he's shown getting to his point, there is no doubt Bancks can accomplish everything on that list.Follow Torie Peterson on Twitter | @ToriePeterson