SUN Hockey Pool

Flames prospect's future in own hands

Randy Sportak, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:02 AM ET

PENTICTON, B.C. - The way Ryan Howse sees it, he’ll decide his fate this coming season.

Howse, the 2009 Calgary Flames third-round draft choice, could end up back in junior for an over-age season. Or he could go to the minors — most likely the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat, but the ECHL Utah Grizzlies remain an option. Or — and this is pie in the sky — he could make the NHL club.

“It’s in my hands,” Howse said after a morning skate in anticipation of Sunday evening’s clash with the San Jose Sharks at the Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, B.C. “I’ve got to go out there and work hard every day, improve myself and play my game — do what’s got me to here. I can’t try anything out of the ordinary.”

Howse is also in control of another element of his game. It’s one the Flames have urged him to take a greater responsibility this summer … his nutrition and fitness.

Nobody can question the talent possessed by the 20-year-old who originally hails from Prince George, B.C. He’s shown a snipers touch in junior, scoring 51 goals last season for the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins and 47 in the 2009-10 campaign. However, GM Jay Feaster publicly called Howse over the carpet this past summer, citing a need for a better diet as the key element which could keep him from succeeding.

Message heard, Howse said.

“I took it as a challenge. It’s the best way to take it, and I’ll try to get better. That’s what I’m here to do.

I made the right decisions and started to each better and feel better,” said Howse, who said he’s dropped weight. “I had to change everything.

I wasn’t the healthiest eater, but things have changed. Hopefully, it pays off. I’m going to continue eating the same way I do now.”

That means more water instead of pop and juice for refreshment and better options on the plate.

“A lot of greens. I’m trying to stay away from the bad stuff,” Howse said. “I feel more energized when I come to the rink and work out — that’s for sure.”

It may seem the Flames are being harsh toward Howse, but it’s because they see the potential. Truth is, he’s one of the few pure goal-scorers in the system.

Conversely, it’s hardly the first time a young player needed a hard reminder about the value of nutrition and fitness. Gary Roberts is now a guru for up-and-coming NHLers but was unable to do two chin-ups when he attended his first Flames training camp.

Howse is just the latest in a long list of players who needed a nudge. Now, he has a clean slate and people who want to look forward.

“I don’t have any pre-judged thoughts on how much the guy weighs or what he looks like,” said Heat head coach Troy Ward. “As far as I’m concerned with Howse, it’s a clean slate. If he can get the job done and can play, regardless of how he looks, I’m going to give that kid credit.

“I have an open-minded policy. The ice and the game will determine where he’s at.”

ICE CHIPS

The prospects roster is down two players due to injury. G Laurent Brossoit didn’t make the trip from Calgary after suffering a groin injury in Saturday’s practice. The team’s need for a third goalie at this event caused them to bring in Adam Avramenko, a product of Strathmore who played mainly in the Southern Professional Hockey League last season. Avramenko was going to attend the Abbotsford Heat camp on a tryout basis but received an early call ... Broissoit joins D Tyler Wotherspoon, who’s out due to off-season shoulder surgery.


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