Finding his comfort zone

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

There was a time Steve Covington wondered if he'd ever score a goal.

The Maple Ridge, B.C., speedster played his entire rookie WHL season without denting the twine.

Mercifully, in his 55th regular- season game, Covington ended the drought.

Those days are long gone.

Covington, a key member of the Hitmen's group of secondary scorers, has already matched last year's total of six goals.

GM-head coach Kelly Kisio said Covington has taken his game up a level.

"He's a year older and a year stronger and he's getting more chances to score," Kisio said.

"He's felt out the league for a couple of years and he knows what's going on."

The 18-year-old said contributing offensively on a regular basis has boosted his confidence.

"It's nice to get off to a good start but we still have a long way to go," Covington said.

"To get a goal every couple of games, it helps your confidence so much."

Four of the 6-ft., 178-lb. forward's six goals have come on the man-advantage and he leads the club in powerplay markers.

"He's getting a little more powerplay time and as we go along, he's probably going to get more," Kisio said.

"(Leading the team) says something about him. He goes to the areas where you need to be to score and that's half the battle.

"The penalty killers on the other team are all guys who work hard. They're greasy and he's the same way."

Covington, who scored the game-winner on the PP Sunday against Swift Current, said he's been in the right spot at the right time.

But the rest of the team has managed only seven powerplay goals as the struggling unit has clicked at just 10.5%.

"I've been in front of the net and been Johnny on the spot," he said. "I'm working hard and that has helped.

"It seems like we haven't been getting enough shots or traffic in front or bounces haven't gone our way.

"But the last few games, we've scored a couple of powerplay goals so I think it's going to start to come."

Kisio shook things up on the weekend by putting sniper Ryan Getzlaf on the point, where he has played the last two seasons.

"Anytime you have Getzlaf back on the point, you're going to get goals," Covington said. "Just let him shoot."

Covington, drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Red Wings last summer, said attending camp with the big club was an eye-opener.

"It was great going to pro camp and seeing how hard you have to work at the next level. Coming back, I had all the confidence in the world.

"Everybody's over six-two. That was the biggest thing, speed and size. For me, I'm a small guy so I have to be faster and work harder than everybody else.

"Detroit expects a lot out of me and I expect a lot out of myself."

THINNING BLUELINE: The Hitmen are a little thin on the back end but GM-head coach Kelly Kisio isn't feeling pressured to make another deal.

"I don't think so," Kisio said. "We have five defencemen and once we get down to four, we start scrambling a little bit."

He acquired blueliner Tyler Harder from Brandon late last month but the newcomer was sent to the sidelines after being blasted into the boards from behind in Medicine Hat Friday.

Andy Rogers reaggravated his bad ankle the following night, leaving the club with five healthy defencemen.


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