Jujhar Khaira had just finished his first professional season, which ended in a 1-0 game seven loss to the Utica Comets in the Calder Cup Playoffs. He couldn’t help but mention his teammates when summing up the season that was.
“With the group of guys we had this year, I’ve been on a few teams in different leagues, and I’ve never been on a team with a group of guys like this," Khaira said after the game. "Everybody was close, there were no groups or anything.”
As a 20-year-old making the jump to the professional game, having a group like he did in Oklahoma City helped Khaira grow as a player and as a young man.
“I thought it went really well,” Khaira said of his first pro year. “I thought I learned a lot this year just with information coming from the older guys and the coaches and watching video and all that. It was a disappointing loss (in the playoffs) but overall I had a lot of fun and a pretty good season.”
Playing with the Barons and those in that locker room was his favourite part of the 2014-15 season.
“I just liked being around the guys,” said Khaira. “I think any time you’re around the guys, it’s always a blast. I can’t really pinpoint one part of the season, but the whole season was a lot of fun.”
Khaira finished his first pro season with four goals and six assists in 51 games, adding 62 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound centre came up big in the playoffs.
After missing time due to an elbow injury, Khaira returned to the lineup for game three against the San Antonio Rampage. Up 2-0 in the best-of-five series, Khaira would help the Barons advance.
The Oilers 2012 third-round pick scored a goal at 5:01 of overtime to clinch the series. Even with scoring that big goal, the time spent with his teammates after the win sticks out even more in his mind.
“I think just beating those guys,” said Khaira. “All year, it was just a war against them and it was just nice to beat them and move on. Just the feeling after with the guys, I’ll remember that a lot more than scoring.”
Khaira scored two goals in game four of their second round series against Utica. His performance helped the Barons win 7-4 and tie the series at 2-2.
Heading into his second professional season, Khaira has a few areas of his game he looks to focus on this summer.
“I’m always going to be working on my skating, just protecting the puck, my stick handling in small areas, making plays at full speed,” he said. “I’m going to try and do a lot of that this summer.”