Breaking the Ice

JASON HILLS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Cam Lanigan is about to embark on his first ever Western Hockey League start tonight.

The Edmonton Oil Kings 16-year-old goaltender isn't thinking about posting a shutout, all he expects out of himself is to gain the confidence of his teammates.

"I don't want to be the liability and have the team think they have to change their game plan with me in net," said Lanigan who is expected to get his first WHL start when the Oil Kings travel to Cranbrook to take on the Kootenay Ice.

"I am hoping I can go out and make a mark in my first game, and give the team some confidence in front on me so that if they have to turn to me again they can count on me and they aren't going to be nervous having me in there."

Lanigan was in a heated battle during training camp for the back-up spot, behind incumbant Dalyn Flette.

His only WHL experience came last season, when he stepped in for Alex Archibald for just 22 seconds last season in a game against Calgary when Flette was on the shelf with an injured ankle.

During training camp, he beat out Patrick Terriss, Jeff Pelletier and Harrison May for the right to back-up Flette, who is in his first full season as a starter.

READY FOR THE JUMP

Terriss, Pelletier and May were all older than Lanigan, and they had more experience, but the Calgary native proved himself ready to make the jump to the WHL and begin his major junior career.

"There will definitely be some rough spots during the year, I would be naive not to think there wouldn't be any. I am young, and I have a lot to learn in this league, but I will just have to step back and take a look back at what went wrong, if I have a bad game," said Lanigan.

"I won't be using any of it as an excuse as a 16 year old. I don't want people to say, 'oh they lost, but they have a 16 year old in net'. "

Lanigan has so far been a spectator to Flette, who's played very well as the Oil Kings new starter, posting a 2-2 record with a 3.15GAA.

During practice on Thursday, Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau took Lanigan aside and let him know that he would earn his first start this weekend, with the Oil Kings playing three games in three nights.

With that practice being the last full tune-up of the week, Lanigan put in extra work to make sure he was prepared for tonight.

"(Thursdays) practice was important. I really tried to get my timing back, because I've been on the bench the last three games, and I haven't been put in a game situation," said Lanigan.

'GETTING THE DESIRE BACK'

"I was really battling and getting that desire back in me. I am not going to do too much different, because it seems to be working out so far."

As a 15-year-old, Lanigan played last season with the Calgary Rangers of the Southern Alberta Midget League, which is a league designed for the the top 15-year-old's not playing Midget AAA.

He put up impressive numbers and was invited to the World U-17 for Team Pacific training camp this summer.

He's on their radar for the upcoming World U-17 Championships in Port Alberni, B.C. in December.

"I want to develop, but I want to succeed as well, and that will be the biggest balance between it (this season)," said Lanigan. "I am not focusing on shutouts or anything like that, I just want to be consistent, provide stability for 'Fletter' (Flette) and push him as much as I can.

"I want to give us the chance to be the best tandem we can be."

HENKE MOVES ON: Shortly after the Oil Kings 5-4 shootout win Friday night against Red Deer, general manager Bob Green dealt forward Brent Henke to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a 7th round bantam draft pick in 2009.

Henke scored two goals and added six assists last year in 63 games. He didn't dress for the Oil Kings first four games of this season.


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