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Kanzig playing a big role with Hitmen

by Andrew Schopp / Calgary Flames

I’m loving it so far. They have me on the power play a little more here, which is something new. I’m enjoying that and learning from it.Keegan Kanzig

CALGARY, AB -- Since moving in just down the hall from the NHL team that drafted him, “Big Keegs” has had a big impact with the Calgary Hitmen.

On Nov. 20, defenceman Keegan Kanzig, the Calgary Flames’ third round pick at the 2013 draft, found himself down the hall from the big club when he was dealt by the WHL’s Victoria Royals to the Hitmen in exchange for Edmonton Oilers prospect Greg Chase and a pair of draft picks.

After injecting the hulking 6-foot-7, 242-pound defenceman into their lineup, the Hitmen have put together a solid record of 6-3-0 as Kanzig continues to adjust to his new digs, where he has seen significant minutes on the team’s powerplay unit.

“I’m loving it so far,” Kanzig said of life in Calgary. “They have me on the power play a little more here, which is something new. I’m enjoying that and learning from it.”

In nine games with the Hitmen so far, Kanzig has tallied five assists, while posting a rating of plus-9 with his new team.

While serving as a dominant physical force on the Hitmen blueline, Kanzig sits second overall in WHL penalty minutes, a statistic he says is a reflection of the way he plays the game; with tenacity and grit.

“It’s not something I target,” Kanzig said of his nearly league-leading 86 penalty minutes in 21 games. “I play mean and big. It’s something the coaching staff said they value. I’m just doing my best to play that part of my game well.”

Prior to being dealt to the Hitmen, Kanzig played 217 games with the Royals, with whom he tallied 23 points and 375 penalty minutes over four seasons.

The Flames inked the 19-year-old blueliner to a three-year entry-level deal on Dec. 12, 2013 after to an impressive training camp with the team.

The product of Athabasca, AB utilizes his big frame and a little bit of a mean streak to create space for himself and his teammates on the ice.

Although maintaining focus on his WHL opponents, Kanzig admitted it’s hard to ignore being situated just 100-feet away from the Flames’ dressing room, where he hopes to one day lace up his skates.

“I’m just trying to play and focus on the WHL game,” he said. “It does creep in every now and then that they (Flames) are right next door but it isn’t a bad thing, it’s a good thing in terms of motivation.”

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