Spotlight shining on Sonne

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

Every player on the Calgary Hitmen roster took a step forward this season.

Centre Brett Sonne took a giant leap.

Coming off a miserable, injury-plagued 2008-09 campaign, Sonne came to camp and insisted he could be the team's top centre.

He ended up being the league's top player.

Sonne is off to Rimouski for the Memorial Cup. Well, the awards ceremony, at least, where he'll be up against the OHL's Cody Hodgson and the QMJHL's Nicola Riopel.

He said he would have loved to bring his teammates with him.

"When you come so close and you don't make it, it's a little heartbreaking," he said.

"But this is one of those experiences you're going to keep with you forever.

"It was an awesome atmosphere to be at the rink with those guys.

"It would have been perfect if 20 other guys came with me."

Sonne scored 48 goals and 100 points despite missing a month while helping Team Canada's world junior team win a gold medal.

Hodgson, Sonne's world junior teammate, had 43 goals and 92 points with the Brampton Battalion while Riopel posted 43 wins, a 2.01 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage with the Moncton Wildcats.

Regardless of who wins the CHL's overall award tomorrow, Sonne said he's proud of what his team was able to accomplish.

"What we did was amazing," he said. "It was supposed to be a rebuilding year and we put the pedal to the metal.

"It was something special and something we'll keep with us for a long time."

Sonne will likely turn pro with the St. Louis Blues organization next fall. He said his four years with the Hitmen have prepared him for life in the pro ranks.

"Just with the number of games we played, and knowing you can't take a shift off," he said.

"And once you get to the later rounds (of the playoffs), fatigue sets in and you learn how to play through that."

The Maple Ridge, B.C., product said he learned a great deal from former teammates like Anaheim Ducks star Ryan Getzlaf and Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Ladd.

"I think you have to learn from your peers, the veterans around the room," he said. "Personally, I got called up when I was 15 and I had guys to look at like Getzlaf and Ladd.

"Both those guys won a Stanley Cup. It's pretty special playing in Calgary as an older guy and watching those guys move on to bigger and better things."

Sonne said he's prepared to take the next step in his hockey career.

"Turning pro is a big step," he said. "For me to make it, I have to get bigger and stronger and faster. It sounds cliche, but that's what jumping up a league is like.

"When I was 15, I came up and I saw a couple of games of junior, and I learned what I had to do to become a top player in the league.

"It won't be any different if I go pro."

But, for the next week or two, he plans on taking a breather.

"A big part of training in hockey is learning how to rest," he said. "I think this would be a good time to go home, spend some time with my family and take my little brother golfing or something like that."


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