CALGARY - Emerson Etem wants to be a model of consistency.
It's tough to be much more consistent than this.
Heading into Tuesday’s tilt with the Calgary Hitmen, the Medicine Hat Tigers forward was the only Western Hockey League sharpshooter averaging more than a goal per game this winter.
“I just try to do the little things, really. I don’t worry about the goals,” Etem insisted.
“Every game, I’ve gotten some great chances, and I’ve been able to utilize my shot, which is one of my best strengths. I’m just trying to realize that as much as possible, and that’s what’s been translating into a lot of goals this year.”
A lot of goals.
At a steady clip, too.
Following Tuesday's puck-drop at Medicine Hat Arena, the Anaheim Ducks' first-rounder scored a goal and has now celebrated 49 goals in 48 games, putting him on pace for a rare accomplishment.
“Like I said, I just have to do the little things, continue with my routine and not try to get away from anything,” Etem said. “But I think definitely, at the end of the year, to get close to a goal a game or over a goal a game, that’d be really special.”
A quick flip through the Tigers’ history books shows just how special it would be.
Don Murdoch, whose promising NHL career was derailed by drug and alcohol issues, scored 82 times in 70 games in 1974-75 and followed that up with 88-goal celebrations in the same amount of outings the following season.
Homegrown sniper Ken Solheim is the only other guy in franchise history to average more than a goal-per-game for the Tigers, tickling the twine 68 times in 64 games during the 1980-81 campaign.
The feat hasn’t been replicated since, a bit of a surprise when you consider the likes of Trevor Linden and Joffrey Lupul starred in the Gas City.
Now, Etem has a serious shot at it.
The 19-year-old from Long Beach, Calif., had two hat-tricks in a five-day span at the end of January and has only gone goal-less twice since the New Year. In both those outings, Etem had a pair of assists. In fact, Dec. 9 is the last time he was shut out completely.
Although Portland Winterhawks’ Ty Rattie, Brandon Wheat Kings’ Mark Stone, Regina Pats’ Jordan Weal and a few others are also in the mix, Etem is trying to become the second-straight Tigers star to win the WHL’s scoring race.
Centre Linden Vey, who’s now skating for the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester, took top honours last season with 46 goals and 70 helpers for 116 points in 69 games.
Etem had 45 goals and 35 assists in 65 appearances in 2010-11, but he believes he’s been much more dependable during his third campaign in The Hat.
“I’m just being more of a team guy, more of an all-around force every night,” Etem said. “I’m just trying to be consistent.
“Last year, I think Vey and I were on most of the time, but sometimes, we were not just off the scoresheet but maybe, defensively, we weren’t the best every night.
“I just think, to be one of the top players in a league like this, you’ve gotta show you can be consistent, and Vey and I would have five-point nights one night and then some we’d have zero. It’s good to see me improving in that sense and being more of a consistent go-to guy every night who can not only put up points but can be a great two-way threat.
“I’ve taken pride in that this year.”