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Klimchuk shows growth through first season of pro hockey

by Aaron Vickers / Calgary Flames

Chalk it up as a learning experience.

Morgan Klimchuk’s first professional season of hockey with the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League didn’t translate to big production, but it was large on lessons.

“It’s been a year of ups and downs,” Klimchuk said. “I think there’s a lot of good things to take away and lots of things you can definitely learn from. Coming into the year you don’t really know what to expect, it being my first year pro.

“I can say I learned a lot. We had an awesome group of guys here and a great staff. I’m excited for a good summer. You know a lot of what you need to work on to be a good player in this league and to excel at this level. I’m going to take everything I learned and try to have a good summer.”

In 55 games with Stockton, Klimchuk posted just three goals and six assists.

The output follows a Western Hockey League career that saw him finish with 118 snipes and 267 points in 261 career games split between Regina and Brandon.

The numbers aren’t the entire story, though.

And, unprompted, Stockton coach Ryan Huska singled out the freshman as a surprise at the end of the season.

“There’s one guy who often goes overlooked but had a great first year is Morgan Klimchuk,” Huska said. “Everyone always expects a lot of point totals to be put up, but Morgan did a great job improving in a lot of areas this year and became a trustworthy, reliable guy for us.”

Flattering words, no doubt.

“I can’t say enough good things about not only Ryan but the staff here with how they’ve helped me,” Klimchuk said. “If the offence isn’t coming, they’ve really helped me round out the rest of my game. I give them full credit for that. They worked with me a lot one-on-one and stayed a lot of extra time, a lot of extra hours helping me out. It feels good to have that respect or the pat on the back from those guys.”

There’s no resting on that, though.

Not with a nine-point season.

Not for Klimchuk.

The Calgary native is demanding more of himself moving forward.

And it starts now.

“I’ve always been a hard worker. It’s going to be no different this summer,” said Calgary’s third pick (No. 28) in the 2013 NHL Draft. “I’m going to take a bit of a different approach, try to work on a lot of fine-tuning of the skills. It’s going to be a fun summer. I’m going to work with some new people. You kind of got to expand it. I’ve been doing the same thing for a couple summers now. I’m going to take a different approach and come back next year with a fresh new attitude and way I look at the game.

“I was pretty strong on the defensive side of the puck and everything like that. I’m still trying to find a way to produce offensively at this level consistently. Working with skills coaches and the Flames staff this summer I think we’ll be able to find a way to do that so hopefully it’ll translate to a little more offence next year.”

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