Karl's kitchen

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

At an imposing 6-ft. 2-in., 209-lb., getting in Karl Alzner's kitchen may not be the best idea.

Unless the Calgary Hitmen defenceman is serving up some of his award-winning chocolate chip cookies or ribbon-winning jam.

"How'd you find that out?" asked the native of Burnaby, B.C., who is skating this week at the national junior team's development camp.

"That's a long time ago. My sister ended up going into that contest at the (Pacific National Exhibition), so I just made some up with my mom and threw 'em in there and, next thing you know, that happened.

"I've had to live with that for the last three years. When I was 16, all the coaches told me to bring cookies. My mom made them and knew the secret. I was there to mix and lick the beaters after. That was pretty much my job."

Does that mean Alzner is not an aspiring chef?

"I can make Kraft Dinner, a mean Kraft Dinner, and some pretty good scrambled eggs," he replied.

OK, so he isn't the second coming of Emeril. But the teen is looking to kick his game up a notch with a couple of big goals on the horizon. On the radar for Canada's World Junior squad that will compete at the Christmastime tournament in Sweden, Alzner is hoping to parlay the confidence from being invited to the summer camp into a big season.

Plus, he's pegged to be a high selection at next summer's NHL entry draft, though he vows to do his best to not become caught up in those possibilities.

"I hear about it from some of the guys but I'm really trying to block that out," said Alzner, who turns 18 in September. "One thing I've told myself is to stay away from the draft rankings this season because I don't want to battle with that throughout the year and have things distracting me ...

"I don't want to think too far forward," he added. "I believe I could (succeed) if I play to my potential but I don't want to get ahead of myself ... If it happens, that's awesome and I'll be the happiest kid in the world but if it doesn't, then it goes to show I have to prove something."

A defensive defenceman, Alzner will be counted on to improve on his four-goal, 20-assist campaign in the coming Hitmen season, seeing as the club lost key rearguards Jeff Schultz and Brett Carson.

Becoming more of a scoring threat is one of his goals.

"All the coaches I've had have tried to get me to dip into the offensive side," said Alzner, who was named B.C. minor hockey player of the year in 2003. "I'd never really tried because I didn't want to mess up doing something I didn't usually do. Once things worked out a bit, I'd slowly progressed. I'm still slowly going to get a bit better."

Much like he did this past season. Over the year, Alzner became a bigger piece of the Hitmen puzzle, earning more and more ice time.

"I thought my game was more one-dimensional at the start of the season, pretty much pure defence and no offence ...," he said.

"I feel I've made progress the last two years."


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