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Shinkaruk hopes to help spark Flames

The winger was recalled from Stockton on Friday after Kris Versteeg suffered a groin injury

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY, AB -- The latest isn't putting pressure on himself to be the greatest.

But Hunter Shinkaruk, recalled from Stockton of the American Hockey League in the midst of a tumultuous road trip that saw the Calgary Flames win one of four games en route to getting outscored 16-5, is hoping to help his team find its stride back on home ice.

"For me, I'm a pretty competitive kid," Shinkaruk started. "I want to score and create every single game. I think there's definitely a fine line of not getting too on myself. At the end of the day I think what allows me to have success is the fact that I am competitive with myself and with other guys. I think it's a good opportunity for me to come in and help the team.

"But you have to take a deep breath every once in a while and relax a bit." 

Shinkaruk earned the promotion after a successful start with Calgary's AHL affiliate.

With Stockton, the Calgary, AB native netted four goals and seven points through his first seven skates.

Points aside, he's returning to the NHL as an improved player in all facets of the game.

"That's one thing they've said to me when they sent me down (in training camp) was my three-zone game and round my game out," Shinkaruk said. "They know I can produce and they know I can score, but it's about shift-in, shift-out, showing them I'm a reliable player on the ice.

"My game's pretty much all offence, but I had to round out a little bit and focus on it down there. Now that I'm back up, it's a good opportunity to show them."

Offence has always come natural to the 22-year-old. 

Shinkaruk, the No. 24 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, had 105 goals and 235 points in 211 career junior games with Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League. He's added 47 goals in 143 games through his time in the AHL.

He had two goals and three points in seven skates with the Flames last season after being acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in February, too.

And, though Calgary may be craving some of late, the ask on Shinkaruk isn't to focus his efforts solely on the offensive end.

It's to tackle all 200 feet of the ice.

"He's going to have to do that," Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said.

"Like any young guy.

"I don't know how many goals he's got in the league, one or two, so he's going to have to do those things until he establishes himself, for sure. 

"He's a rookie guy. He shouldn't be coming in thinking he has a heavy load to carry. He has to come in and play his game and just stick to that and make sure he's does the little things right like any young guy that's trying to get footing in this league. 

"You've just got to do the little things right and hopefully your game manifests itself."

Message sent.

Message received.

"I think for me it's just about playing my game," Shinkaruk said. "I think if I do that and work on all parts of my game it's going to help the team. I just want to try to help the team win.

"For me, being a guy that needs to produce night-in night-out, it's definitely not an easy job. You've got to do things the right way. This is the best league in the world. You're against good players every shift. It's not an easy job, but I love it.

"It's a good opportunity." 

His first opportunity, skating beside Sam Bennett and Troy Brouwer, provided 12:28 spread between 17 shifts to get his feet wet. 

The second, likely Thursday against the visiting Dallas Stars, will give Shinkaruk a second chance at leaving a bigger impression.

"It's just a good opportunity to come in and try to help this team win," Shinkaruk said. "We've got a lot of good pieces in this room … a lot of good players. It's a good opportunity for me to come in and get some wins and turn things around a little bit. 

"All the guys want to win here. Obviously the start isn't what they've wanted. You can sense that. You can sense they want more. I think that that's what's going to help this team have success. They're not happy with where they're at.

"Every day it's about working and getting back to where we want to be."

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