Hamonic finding his stride

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- Travis Hamonic was happy to start the process of knocking off the rust and finding his place on his new team.

Although the 19-year-old defenceman was disappointed he and the Brandon Wheat Kings lost in his debut against the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday, the fact Hamonic returned from a third-degree shoulder separation represents a big step in the right direction.

“I was slotted in there as the seventh (defenceman), but it felt pretty good,” Hamonic said Monday from Brandon. “I was out for about two months and hadn’t played a game in the WHL for almost three, so it was nice to get my feet back under me the way that I did. I played more and more each shift as the game wore on.”

Hamonic suffered the injury on Jan. 3 while he was suiting up for Team Canada at the world junior hockey championship against Switzerland.

During the final minute of the 6-1 semifinal victory, Hamonic was hit from behind by Swiss forward Jeffrey Fuglister and the injury kept him out of the gold medal game against the United States and left him on the shelf until Saturday.

“We did a lot of conditioning stuff during my eight weeks of being off, we wanted to make sure that when I got back in I could play big minutes like I was before,” said Hamonic, a second round pick (53rd overall) of the New York Islanders in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. “I’m getting used to a new team and a new system. I know I’m going to have a big role on this team, which I relish. I want to do the best I can with that ice time.”

Hamonic, who has 10 goals and 39 points in 32 games this season, was acquired by the Memorial Cup hosts from the Moose Jaw Warriors to assist during the stretch drive and into the playoffs.

The St. Malo product worked hard to get back when he did.

“Mem Cup is going to be exciting, to play in that tournament along with the world junior is going to be a big honour for me,” said Hamonic. “But we want to be sure that as a team we earn our way to the tournament.

“We know we have a big opportunity here, one that only comes around for some guys, once in a lifetime. We want to do everything we can to win a WHL championship and a Memorial Cup.”

While there was good news for Hamonic, the Wheat Kings lost a pair of talented forwards on the weekend as Mark Stone sustained a concussion and Aaron Lewadniuk suffered a shoulder injury.

The Wheat Kings (42-17-1-3) remain tied for first overall in the Western Hockey League standings with 88 points and open a five-game homestand Tuesday against the Vancouver Giants.

LUKE CLAIMS CROWN: Shane Luke outlasted Dauphin Kings teammate Ryan Dreger to win the Manitoba Junior Hockey League scoring title.

Luke finished with 29 goals and 101 points, which was two more than Dreger, who led the league with 53 goals.

Selkirk Steelers’ Taylor Dickin, the MJHL’s Most Valuable Player, was third in scoring with 40 goals and 92 points.

The MJHL playoffs are set to open Friday night and we’ll have a preview later this week.

The Kings finished the season with the best record (50-11-1) and are fifth in the CJHL rankings going into the playoffs.

Neepawa Natives goalie Matt Krahn was the MJHL player in the week after going 3-0 and turning aside 85 of 88 shots he faced.

Krahn was 22-14-2-2 with a 3.17 goals against average in 2,480 minutes played this season with the Natives.

THE BATTLE: With one week to go in the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s regular season, it’s a three-horse race for first place, with only one point separating first from third.

The Pembina Valley Twisters are currently first with 67 points, but the Fort Garry/Fort Rouge Twins and defending champion Charleswood Hawks are both knocking on the door with 66 points.

The Twins, who have won four straight, host the Twisters at Sam Southern Arena Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

PLAYOFFS CONTINUE: The qualifying round of playoffs in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League is complete and the best-of-5 first round match-ups are set.

The league-leading Winnipeg Wild host the Norman Northstars, with the first three games slated for St. Adolphe and the Winnipeg Thrashers are up against the Pembina Valley Hawks.

The other two series feature the Southwest Cougars and Central Plains Capitals and the Brandon Wheat Kings and Eastman Selects.


Photos