It was deer in the headlights. As soon as he got the puck and looked up ice, I was there waiting for him. It was a no-doubter for me. - Hunter Smith
PENTICTON, BC -- Hunter Smith had two minutes to stew in the penalty box after taking a charging penalty midway through the third period of Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at the Young Stars Classic.
Kale Kessy had just a couple of seconds to see the 6-foot-7, 208-pound Smith step out of the box before delivering a thunderous check to the Oilers prospect near centre ice.
“It was deer in the headlights,” Smith recounted. “As soon as he got the puck and looked up ice, I was there waiting for him. It was a no-doubter for me. I just had to finish the body. That’s just part of the game. It was nothing outside of that. I just made sure to hit him clean.
“After he wanted to go. I gave him what he wanted.”
It was a sequence, which included a spirited bout afterwards, that energized the Flames.
“The whole building kind of came alive at that time,” coach Ryan Huska said. “It was a big hit. I was surprised Kessy got up after that hit. Those are the type of hits you like to see in the game. The game’s meant to be physical. If the hits are proper and they’re clean, I think everyone is okay with it.
“It brought the building to life and brought our bench to life as well.”
The Flames coach wasn’t the only one eager to talk about the hit.
Though he’s used to electrifying buildings with his highlight reel goals, reigning Hobey Baker Award winner Johnny Gaudreau could certainly appreciate the lift.
“When you see Smitty come out of the box, it’s hard not to be motivated after something like that,” said the 5-foot-9, 160-pound winger. “He did a great job out there and got all the guys motivated.”
Though Calgary eventually fell to Edmonton in the second of three games at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, Smith admitted he had no problem showcasing what he can contribute to the Flames down the road.
And one doesn’t have to look hard to find it.
“I’m 6-foot-7,” Smith said frankly. “That’s the game I play. Down low, lots of hits. Unfortunately I took a penalty late and that probably didn’t help the team a whole lot but I came back with a fight. I just tried to create energy and that’s what I’m trying to contribute to the team right now.
“That’s got to be my game. Night-in, night-out I have to be big and use my body and be a physical presence at all times. That’s how I create space for myself and my teammates.”