Super-fit Spence ready to go

SCOTT FISHER, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

If there was an award handed out to the Calgary Hitmen player deemed to be in the best all-around shape, it would have to go to Dan Spence.

Hands down.

The 19-year-old Hitmen goaltender put on quite a display yesterday as the veterans went through fitness testing.

Goaltending coach Darcy Wakaluk had to think for a while when asked the last time a goaltender came into camp as the fittest player on the team.

"I guess it might have been 1984 when I was at rookie camp in Kelowna," Wakaluk said before breaking into laughter.

"No, Spence is a strong kid and it looks like he's obviously done a lot of work in the off-season.

"You have to have the physical strength and the conditioning but, with the goaltenders, we're concerned with (the mental toughness) between the ears."

Spence is coming off his first season as the club's starting goaltender when he posted 30 wins, a 2.62 GAA and .905 save percentage.

He went 9-9 in the post-season and played a major role in the Hitmen's march to the Eastern Conference Final.

But he was passed over in the summer's NHL Entry Draft. And that has given him some motivation.

"It was a bit of a letdown after the draft," Spence said. "I really used that to light my fire a little more.

"I want to turn some heads and prove that (NHL teams) made some wrong choices."

Spence went out with a personal trainer three times a week during the summer, and another two or three days on his own, as he chiselled himself into shape.

All that sweat paid off yesterday as the redheaded southpaw led the way in three of the five categories, including bench press, sit-ups and burpees.

He actually maxed out in the two latter tests, which ends at 160 sit-ups and 150 burpees.

Good thing. The way he was going, it looked like he could have done sit-ups well into the night.

"This is the day you work for and you see how the summer went," he said. "I guess I did a few things right so I'm happy with it."

In addition to being snubbed by pro teams, he also used the promise of the upcoming season as motivation.

"I'm really excited. I'm taking a professional outlook into this season.

"I see really good things for this team and I want to help out as much as I can."

CAMPING TIME

Main camp begins today with three intrasquad games at the Don Hartman Sportsplex (12:45 to 5:45 p.m.).


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