CALGARY, AB -- 20-year-old Morgan Klimchuk was eligible to return to the Western Hockey League this season but the Calgary product was dead set on turning pro.
The first step was putting more muscle on his 6-foot frame and getting himself physically ready for the rigours of pro hockey.
“I played at 180 all last year and right now I'm around 190, so 10 pounds of good weight is something I'm excited about and something they wanted to see from me,” Klimchuk told CalgaryFlames.com last month. “They told me that coming into this season they wanted me to get bigger and I did that. I put on a bunch of weight in the summer. I'm the heaviest I've been coming into camp and I'm the best I have felt. I’m noticing even after one game at this level. It’s a lot different than last year. I’m bigger, faster, and ready to play with older guys.”
Next, he had prove himself throughout the course of the Flames training camp and pre-season skates. He was a standout for Calgary at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, was the fittest prospect at camp, and ended up collecting an assist in three exhibition tilts.
The body of work thoroughly impressed management and he was assigned to the Stockton Heat on Sept. 27. After a few practices in California, the coaching staff opted to play Klimchuk in both of their pre-season games to see how he fared.
He responded with a goal and an assist, helping the Heat to a 2-0-0 record in exhibition play.
“I love it here so far,” Klimchuk told Heat correspondent Dustin Cowell. “The rink is unbelievable and the gym has everything we could possibly need.
“The fans have been great too. They’re obviously passionate about the sport and judging by the turnout for the pre-season game it’s going to be a lot of fun playing here.”
Klimchuk and the Heat kick off the 2015-16 regular season on Oct. 10 when they host the Rockford IceHogs at the Stockton Arena.