Spence secures top spot

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

They say patience is a virtue and perhaps nobody knows that better than Daniel Spence.

For two seasons, he has patiently bided his time as the Calgary Hitmen's backup netminder, mostly behind all-star goalie Justin Pogge. But when the Red Deer Rebels come calling tonight (Saddledome, 7 p.m.) to open the WHL season, Spence finally gets the start as the No. 1 guy.

The 18-year-old from Langley, B.C., is as thrilled as a kid heading out to trick or treat.

"I've never started a home-opener before and I've been waiting on this bench right here for a long time," said Spence, nodding to the left side of the Hitmen pine after practice at the 'Dome yesterday.

"I'm very excited to shake off the backup job and get this started."

Last season, the redheaded kid, who has a bit of a temper, appeared in 20 games, going 9-8-1-0 with 2.91 goals-against average and a .887 save percentage.

Knowing he's being counted on to start the season off on the right foot against what should be a much-improved Rebels squad, Spence said he's embracing the challenge.

"I'm going into it with nothing to lose. There's a lot at stake but I know what I'm capable of and I know, if given a shot, I can take it," he said.

The Hitmen are still carrying three goaltenders, with 19-year-old Brant Miller and rookie Marty Jones also on the roster.

GM/head coach Kelly Kisio isn't sure how long he'll keep three goalies.

"We'll know when it's time," Kisio said.

The onus is on Spence to play well and hold down the No. 1 gig. He's well aware nothing is carved in stone.

"I know I've got to establish myself just like everybody else on the team. Nothing is guaranteed," Spence said.


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