Bubnick expected to help lead Hitmen

SCOTT FISHER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

Jimmy Bubnick has proven to be a clutch performer.

He led the Calgary Hitmen in scoring at last spring’s Memorial Cup, putting up eight points in four games.

That was one point behind tourney leader Taylor Hall.

Bubnick, who was named to the tourney all-star team, will be heavily relied upon to fill the net in the 2010-11 WHL season.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Bubnick said of playing a bigger role in the club’s attack.

“We’ve got some other guys coming back. Fidds (Tyler Fiddler) went from three to 30 goals. Guys like Fidds and I have to step up, and I have to take the bull by the horns.”

Bubnick arrived in town at the WHL trade deadline and fit in nicely on the Hitmen’s checking line with Del Cowan and fellow ex-Kamloops Blazer Tyler Shattock.

He put up 13 points down the stretch and added 14 more during the playoff run before exploding at the Memorial Cup.

The Saskatoon product will undoubtedly see more time on the powerplay, and surpassing his career high of 57 points (2008-09) is a given if the Hitmen are to survive in the Central Division.

“I’m definitely going to have to put the puck in the net this year,” Bubnick said. “And I don’t back down when I hear that. I get excited about that.

I like having the responsibility on my shoulders.”

With six of the team’s top eight scorers from last season moving on to the pro ranks, head coach Mike Williamson said Bubnick will be a key contributor.

“We definitely have higher expectations for him,” Williamson said. “He’ll be one of the veteran guys we need production from.

“I thought he came a long ways for us last year, and he obviously had a great Memorial Cup tournament.”

Williamson said Bubnick won’t have to change the kind of player he is, but he’ll have to capitalize on his opportunities.

It’s not as if the team didn’t rely on its checking line during last spring’s playoff run.

They likely would never have made it out of the first round if it weren’t for Bubnick and Co. stepping up when it mattered most. Bubnick scored twice and was named the first star as the Hitmen finally dispatched the Moose Jaw Warriors in Game 7.

“In that Moose Jaw series, they were the ones that got the train rolling a little bit,” Williamson said.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder hit the weights during what was an abbreviated summer.

“I dropped some body fat and worked on my first three strides, my acceleration,” Bubnick said.

“I hit the gym and got stronger.”

scott.fisher@sunmedia.ca


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