Huxley's fists of fury

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

His statistics are about as subtle as a punch in the face.

2006-07: one goal, 241 penalty minutes.

2007-08: four goals, 200 penalty minutes.

Needless to say, Adam Huxley isn't at Edmonton's 2008 summer development camp to work on his tenacity.

He's got the hitting and fighting part down pat, dating back to his WHL days when he collected nine goals and 621 PIMs in 197 games.

It's the rest of his game that he's been working on in an attempt to jump from ECHL Stockton to AHL Springfield.

"I have some things I definitely have to work on if I'm going to play in the American League or up here," said the 24-year-old winger from Wainwright. "I worked really hard this summer. I usually work really hard, but this summer I took it to another level, dedicating absolutely everything to it.

"The game is 90% skating - that's what I have to keep working on. I know the rest of my game is at a high enough level, my toughness and my grittiness and my energy. I know I can do my role fine; it's the other things - skating and handling the puck - that I'm working on. I'm trying to improve the rest of my game."

If he hits the skating drills like he hits opponents, you have to like his chances. Huxley is an underdog's underdog, but he never backs down from a challenge.

Guys aren't supposed to make a living as fighters when they're barely bigger than Sam Gagner, but the six-foot, 200-pound Huxley never has any qualms about giving away three or four inches and 20 or 30 pounds a scrap.

"It's a pride thing, it's a character thing," he said. "Some guys pride themselves on scoring goals. I pride myself on fighting and hitting and defensive responsibilities."

He's a folk hero in Stockton, where Thunder fans chant his name and move to the edge of their seats whenever he's on the ice. He's on T-shirts down there, has his own bobblehead doll and because of his courage and commitment, has everyone in the organization cheering for him.

"He came to Springfield after Edmonton's rookie camp last year and did a great job of battling and battling and battling," said Kelly Buchberger, who coached the AHL affiliate last season. "Unfortunately we had so many guys under NHL contracts we couldn't keep him. But you love his enthusiasm and the way he competes and plays hard."

"I want to create a spot in Springfield," said Huxley. "That's my job now, to make them keep me. It's a big jump, but I know I can do it. And Springfield isn't the end of the line for me. Once you get there you're looking to get here (Edmonton). I believe in myself and I've put in enough work over the years and sacrificed enough that sooner or later I'll get my chance. It'll come. It just doesn't come easy for everyone."

It never does for an undersized fighter, but with 1,517 penalty minutes in his last six seasons (WHL and ECHL), it's pretty obvious Huxley doesn't have a problem taking the hard road.

"Some nights it gets a little tedious, but then there's games where you want to fire the boys up, like at the start of a weekend homestand, or you want to get the fans into it, when it's exciting,"he said, adding fighting always seemed to come naturally.

"I started in junior and found out I was pretty good at it," said Huxley, who works out with MMA fighters in Stockton. "You can always learn stuff. A lot of fighting is mental. When I go into a fight my heart rate barely changes, it hardly goes up at all. But if I get the puck in a position to score, then it goes through the roof."

FIGHTING HIS WAY

Determined enforcer Adam Huxley has them chanting his name in Stockton (ECHL). Here are his recent pro stats:

Year Team G A P PIM

04-05 L. Vegas 7 8 15 294

05-06 Victoria 3 4 7 151

06-07 Stockton 1 9 10 241

07-08 Stockton 4 8 12 200


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