Spence diamond

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

The cussing could be heard all the way to the Stampede Corral rafters.

Every time a puck would find the back of the net, another expletive would resonate loudly above the din during the Calgary Hitmen's practice yesterday afternoon.

The bad language didn't come from head coach Kelly Kisio barking at his charges or one of the veteran players -- it was ultra-competitive 16-year-old netminder Daniel Spence.

"I don't like getting scored on at all. I like to stop every puck if I can and if I get scored on, I get pretty (angry)," said Spence, who is from Langley, B.C.

It's a great attitude for the rookie, who stepped up recently when starter Scott Bowles was on the shelf with a mild knee injury.

Spence earned his first career shutout on Remembrance Day against the Prince Albert Raiders in Calgary's 6-0 win and even tallied his first assist against the Lethbridge Hurricanes Nov. 13 in a 3-2 loss.

The talented goaltender has set high standards for himself and isn't surprised with his showing so far this season, which includes a 3-2-2 record, a 2.44 GAA, a .905 save percentage and many spectacular saves along the way.

"I expect a lot out of myself. I work pretty hard and hope I get good results," said Spence, who played Junior B last season with the Revelstoke Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

"I worked hard over the summer and was expecting a good season this year and things are going well."

He'll also backstop Team Pacific at the upcoming World Under-17 Challenge in Lethbridge, Dec. 28-Jan. 4, and that promises to be a nice, belated Christmas present.

Other Canadian clubs include Western, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic and they'll compete against international squads from Slovakia, U.S., Czech Republic, Germany and Finland.

That means Spence is going to go up against teammates Keegan Dansereau of Saskatoon and Brandon's Ryan White, who will be Western players.

"Ryan said he's going to run me, so I'll be looking for him out there," said Spence with a laugh.

He'll join Team Pacific Boxing Day and the Hitmen will have to bring in another netminder for the three contests they play while the U-17 tourney is going on.

Hitmen rookie defenceman Karl Alzner, of Burnaby, B.C., is also going to suit up for Pacific.

When a WHL team drafts a 14 or 15-year-old player in the fourth round of the bantam draft, as the Hitmen did with Spence in 2003, predicting how they'll develop is like rolling the dice.

With Spence so far this season, team brass is beaming.

"I think we're extremely happy with the way he's developed," said Hitmen goalie coach Darcy Wakaluk. "For a 16-year-old goaltender in this league, his composure is impeccable. He doesn't really show his emotions during a game but he's a very intense individual."

The 11-6-4-1 Hitmen leave this morning for seven games in 11 days on the road starting tonight against Kootenay.


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