In his third season in the American Hockey League, Kris Chucko has set his sights on improving his game enough to eventually earn a call up from the Calgary Flames. Chucko started the season strongly with eight points in his first eight games with the Quad City Flames before tailing off a bit as of late.
“I expect to stay on the path I’m on this year and continue to work hard every day,” said Chucko, whose five goals and seven assists placed him third in team scoring through 18 games with the 7-10-1 Quad City squad. “When the opportunity comes, hopefully I’m one of the guys that they’re looking at.”
Quad City coach Ryan McGill said that Chucko has developed into a solid offensive contributor at the AHL level for Calgary’s farm team.
“I think the biggest thing for him right now is to have a lot of confidence,” McGill said of the 22-year-old right winger, Calgary’s first round (24th overall) selection at the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft. “With a lot of confidence sometimes comes success. He still needs to continue to learn and make sure that he does all the little things correct within the game every day on a consistent basis.”
McGill would like to see Chucko put up points on a more consistent basis for the Flames following a 15-goal, 15-assist outing in 80 games last season.
|Kris Chucko |
“Obviously at the next level to be called up, you’re going to have to be a consistent player as well,” McGill said. “That’s what he’s working towards.”
Chucko said that McGill has done a great job of teaching him how to adapt to playing hockey at the professional level.
“He’s a hard-nosed coach,” said the 6-foot-2, 198-pound forward, who hails from Burnaby, B.C. “If you’re not doing something right, he’ll make sure you start doing it right. The biggest thing he teaches every young hockey player in this organization is how to be a pro hockey player. That’s probably the biggest challenge of them all.”
Having endured a pair of 80-game campaigns already at the AHL level, Chucko has already proven that he’s a durable player.
“It’s been a long journey of hard work. I understand what the league’s about,” he said. “I understand the speed of it, the roughness of the schedule and what it’s about to be a pro. The only way you can learn that is by going through it and now I’ve gone through it and I’m really comfortable.”
Noting that he prides himself on “being a physical player who can play in any situation,” Chucko added that he realizes that he has to keep improving if he eventually wants to finally get the call to play with the big club.
“I think I’m on the right track, but I think you can always get better in every area,” he said. “Once you’re in the season it’s not about trying to make huge strides, it’s about trying to work on the little things and continue to grow and continue to get better.”