Slovakian makes impact for Hitmen

CAM MAXWELL -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

AIRDRIE -- Martin Stepan can't complain about his first contest as a member of the Calgary Hitmen.

The Slovakian scored Calgary's first goal in a 2-0 win over the Red Deer Rebels last night in the Hitmen's opening game of the pre-season.

Stepan tallied at 6:59 of the first period and said he's just thrilled to help the WHL team out.

"I'm really happy to be here playing in Canada, and this team has lots of good players -- I'm happy to help the team win," said the 18-year-old, who was selected 65th overall in the CHL import draft.

For a kid who's only been in Canada a short while, Stepan's English isn't all that bad and should only get better the more he's around his teammates.

But on the ice, he admitted, there is a big difference between Canadian and Slovakian hockey.

"There's a big difference. In Slovakia, there are lots of systems. Canada is every player goes up and down," he said.

Calgary head coach and GM Kelly Kisio knows Stepan's got the skill. It's just a matter of getting him in synch.

"At times, he played pretty good, but a lot of the time he gets on the wrong side of the puck," Kisio said.

"But he can jump to the holes, and we'll try find him a centreman that can get him the puck, it'll be good for him.

"It's his first game over here, so it was a bit of an eye-opener for him."

Adam Ross, a 20-year-old from Edmonton, scored the other Hitmen goal, bulging the twine at 16:49 of the second period.

The Hitmen dominated the contest, outshooting the Rebels 47-12, and the score would have been much higher had it not been for the standout netminding of Morgan Clark between the pipes for Red Deer.

Calgary got the shutout with Martin Jones and rookie Chase Komistek sharing the duties. Jones made seven saves, five for Komistek.

The Hitmen resume the pre-season Friday against Kootenay at Centennial Arenas at 7 p.m.

They'll face the expansion Edmonton Oil Kings Saturday at Okotoks (7:30 p.m.).

The final two tilts are at Father David Bauer (Tuesday) against Medicine Hat and at Lacombe (Friday, Sept. 14) against the Rebels.


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