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Klimchuk poised for big year with Pats

by Andrew Schopp / Calgary Flames

-- It's easy to come back to junior hockey from NHL training camp and expect to skate circles around the competition.

That's not Calgary Flames prospect Morgan Klimchuk's expectation, but the 19-year-old centre is striving to be one of the top players at the major-junior level this season, without letting a second round of NHL preseason action get to his head.

"Guys will come back and think it's a whole lot easier, but it's really not," Klimchuk said. "You look at guys who have sophomore slumps because they come back and think it's going to be easier, but it just gets harder. People know who you are and they check you that much harder."

I just want to make sure that I'm consistent and help give my team a chance to win every single night.Morgan Klimchuk

Klimchuk made his return to WHL action with the Regina Pats on Saturday, immediately finding the back of the net in a 6-1 trouncing of the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the Enmax Centre.

The 6'0", 180-pound forward was at it again in his hometown against the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday, scoring the Pats' lone goal in a losing 5-1 effort.

In a post-game media scrum Sunday, Klimchuk revealed a tensor bandage on his left wrist, a precautionary measure in his return to game action after suffering an injury to the appendage in a Sept. 26 NHL pre-season tilt.

"It's a little bit ahead of schedule, but I just couldn't stand watching anymore," he said of returning to the Pats' lineup. "I thought I would push it a bit and I'm really happy I did because I'm feeling good out there."

Selected 28th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, Klimchuk brought a 74-point 2013-2014 WHL campaign into Flames rookie camp where he joined fellow WHLer Eric Roy of the Brandon Wheat Kings, along with Victoria Royals' Austin Carroll and Keegan Kanzig.

With his second NHL camp under his belt, Klimchuk is happy to be back with the Pats in the WHL where he'll have plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent.

Last week, Klimchuk was named to the Team WHL roster for the 2014 Subway Super Series, where his squad will take on a team of Russian juniors in Saskatoon on Nov. 10 and Brandon, Man. on Nov. 11.

The Subway Series will be a solid international showcase for Klimchuk, who is a likely candidate to crack the Team Canada roster for the 2015 World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal, which kicks off on Dec. 26.

In terms of WHL regular season play, Klimchuk expects nothing less than finishing the campaign as one of the league's top scorers.

Last season, Klimchuk finished 29th in WHL scoring with 30 goals and 44 assists in just 57 games, trailing just two points behind fellow Pats forward Dyson Stevenson.

"That's got to be your goal every year," he said. "Especially in your 19-year-old season, you want to be one of the best guys in the league. I just want to make sure that I'm consistent and help give my team a chance to win every single night."

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