Monkey's gone

SCOTT FISHER, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

Ryan Letts' first-career WHL goal was a thing of beauty.

At least, if you ask Dave Lowry.

The Calgary Hitmen rookie winger was just about to describe his big goal, which came in Friday's 2-1 victory in Cranbrook, when the assistant coach cruised by and offered his instant replay.

"Coast-to-coast, backhand top-shelf," Lowry said without breaking stride.

Letts grinned and admitted it was a bit of a bank-job from the corner of the rink.

"I'll take it," he said. "It felt good to get that monkey off my back."

Letts, 10 days shy of his 17th birthday, now has a goal to go with the assist he picked up in the first 30 games of the season.

He's not here to rewrite the scoring records. His value is measured in other ways.

It's a small miracle he's here at all, considering he grew up in the hockey hotbed of Newport Beach, Cal.

"I grew up my whole life in California," said the 6-ft. 2-in., 202-pounder. "This is my first real winter."

Actually, it hasn't been a 'real' winter at all by Canadian standards.

"Yeah, I'm pretty happy about that. It's been awesome, nice and sunny."

Letts, like most WHL rookies has had to earn every minute of ice time. Hitmen coaches have rotated him in and out of the lineup for the first four months of the season.

Lowry said his young pupil is starting to figure out what he needs to do at the WHL level.

"We expect him to be an energy guy," said Lowry. "He's young and starting to figure it out."

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HITMEN HAMMERED: Casey Lee had a goal and three helpers as Kootenay snapped a four-game losing streak by blowing out the Hitmen 7-0. Andrew Bailey, Lukas Bohunicky, Curtis Billsten, Dale Mahovsky, Adam Cracknell and Ben Maxwell also scored for the Ice.

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KOOTENAY ICE: 7

CALGARY HITMEN: 0


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