Hunter Shinkaruk is pretty certain that this summer is going to be the most memorable ones of his life. But long before the hooplah surrounding the 2013 NHL draft in New Jersey which signals the next chapter of one’s hockey career, the first-round prospect is immersed in the current stage. Which, starting soon, is the Western Hockey League post-season — and, potentially, his last as a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers. “I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t creep into my mind sometimes,” Shinkaruk said of the possibility of cracking an NHL lineup in 2013-14. “I’ve had a great team to play for here in the Dub. Obviously, it’s my goal to make it into the NHL next year and it’ll all depend on what team I get drafted to. That’s going to be something I work toward . . . and if that happens, it’ll be pretty unbelievable. “But right now I’m just trying to enjoy every game.” After losing a handful of household jersey numbers in the off-season (see Anaheim Ducks forward Emerson Etem and Tyler Bunz, a goalie in the Edmonton Oilers system), the Tigers fielded a young roster this year — one of the least experienced teams in the WHL with 10 rookies, including goalie Marek Langhamer. Shinkaruk was dubbed the captain at the start of the year and, taking the promotion seriously, he’s tried to be a big-game contributor on most nights. On the scoresheet, it has translated into six game winning goals and two in his last three including Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win over Prince Albert which secured them a spot in the post-season. “Growing up, you see the big names and they always play so well in big games,” said Shinkaruk, who is sitting No. 5 on the last round of NHL’s central scouting rankings behind Ottawa 67’s centre Sean Monahan. “That’s something I’ve really been trying to do here in this stretch and trying to lead my team. “Just a combination of it might being my last season in the WHL and being the captain, I just want to make sure I go out there every game and play my heart out for our team. It’s been a lot of fun.” From a personal standpoint, Shinkaruk has 34 goals and 44 assists in 61 games — 20th in the WHL scoring race.
Calgary’s Shinkaruk has unfinished business before NHL draft
Calgary Herald | May 5