Foursome turning heads

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:14 PM ET

There were plenty of spots open when the Calgary Hitmen rookie camp opened yesterday.

But they're already being snapped up.

Alex Plante? The 6-ft. 4-in., 200-lb. towering d-man is a sure thing.

Same with Justin Falk, an equally gigantic 6-ft. 5-in., 200-lb. rearguard.

Brett Sonne, the club's first-round bantam draft in 2004, is a lock.

And Jason Gregoire appears ready to add his name to the list.

The 5-ft. 11-in., 170-pounder was the best player on the ice during yesterday afternoon's first intrasquad game.

His speed, puck skills and feistiness caught everyone's eyes, including those of Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio.

"There were two or three out there but Gregoire was real good," Kisio said.

"We expected that from him and he didn't disappoint, that's for sure."

Gregoire was a physical presence despite his smaller frame and scored the highlight-reel goal of the game with a coast-to-coast effort.

"He competes as hard as anybody on the ice and adds the skill level that he has to that," Kisio said.

"That makes for a very good hockey player.

"We hope that he's a part of our future."

Yeah, immediate future.

As a 15-year-old, Gregoire, a fourth-round bantam pick in 2004, potted 29 goals and 61 points in 40 games with the Manitoba triple-A midget champion Winnipeg Wild.

"I was real happy with my season," Gregoire said.

"I couldn't have asked for more."

Well, except maybe one more goal.

"That last game, I got robbed by one goal for a 30-goal year."

Gregoire said he has spent the majority of the summer working on his shot and foot speed.

"I've always been able to hit pretty well but you always have to work on your shot and speed," he said. "Especially playing in the Dub, it's really fast and you always have to have your head up."

He's hoping to parlay that hard work into a spot on the Hitmen roster.

"It would be fantastic to play for Calgary. If I do well enough (at camp), who knows?"

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SNEAK PEEK: Brendan Rowinski got his feet wet yesterday.

Calgary's first-round pick in the '05 bantam draft isn't old enough to play in the WHL this season but he's here to see what it's all about.

"It's a fast pace and I'm really enjoying it," Rowinski said. "We skated with the older guys, too, so it was nice to see where you have to get to be like someone like (Ryan) Getzlaf and those guys."

The youngster rattled a shot off the post and also set up Mike Arnold's tally during the scrimmage.

GM/head coach Kelly Kisio liked what he saw from the prospect.

"I think he's feeling his way out there but he was pretty good," Kisio said. "He had numerous chances and made some nice plays.

"I think he'll get better and better as he goes."

Rowinski hopes to suit up for the midget Thrashers in Winnipeg this season.

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NEW VOICE: Brad Curle is the new play-by-play voice of the Calgary Hitmen. Curle, who has called more than 500 WHL games over 13 seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, will also be responsible for community and public relations with the Hitmen.


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