Hitmen dream comes true for 'Calgary boy'

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:37 PM ET

Dreaming of this day since he was a toddler, Kris Foucault can't believe it's finally here.

His Calgary Hitmen drop the puck at their home-opener this afternoon against the Red Deer Rebels (2 p.m., Saddledome) -- his first as a member of the team he grew up cheering for.

"Definitely more exciting. I've always watched these home-openers -- I'm a Calgary boy," Foucault, taken by the Minnesota Wild in the fourth round of this year's NHL Entry Draft, said before a practice at the Saddledome.

"I told my dad, 'I'm gonna be in one of those.'

"This'll be my first."

It only took about 17 years.

"My first home-opener was when I was two years old," said the now 19-year-old Calgarian.

"I watched the Hitmen and the Flames.

"Every year I'd come watch them. It's definitely good to be in one of them."

Joining the Hitmen via trade last season, playing for his favourite WHL team seemed to bring out the best in him.

After splitting time with the Kootenay Ice and the AJHL's Canmore Eagles, he racked up nine goals and 16 points in 22 regular-season games.

He scored 11 times and totalled 16 points during an incredible playoff run that fell just short of the Memorial Cup in the WHL final against the Kelowna Rockets.

Ranked No. 1 in the Canadian Hockey League and off to a 3-0 start, the Hitmen hope to make another deep playoff run.

Scoring doesn't seem to be a problem.

Paced by unexpected sniper Tyler Fiddler, who has four goals so far, and star forward Brandon Kozun, the Hitmen are averaging nearly five scores a game.

They only allowed two against in each of the first two games at Red Deer and Edmonton before giving up four in a 5-4 shootout victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat this week.

"A lot of our younger guys who weren't really looked towards to score goals and play that role have stepped up -- Fiddler being one of them," said Foucault, who's still looking for his first point.

"A bunch of the rookies have looked great. I think our d-corps was said to be our weak point because we're so young. They've looked fine, not letting too many goals in."

Motivating Foucault is a picture he's got of the Rockets' Colin Long hoisting the WHL championship trophy last year.

He's also got more than a decade of Hitmen home-opener memories to draw from.

His favourite is of Kenton Smith back in 1998.

"He got in a fight and pumped this guy," Foucault said with a laugh.

"And then when the guy was on the ground, he picked him back up and punched him once more.

"Smith was my favourite player then. That was my most memorable (opener).

Until this afternoon.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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