SWIFT CURRENT — A year ago Dallas Valentine had to work hard just to earn his way into the Moose Jaw Warriors first rookie game of the season.
This year Valentine almost got to give the game a pass.
Valentine only has 13 Western Hockey League games under his belt, but the poised defenceman is expected to assume a bigger role with the team this season.
"I just try to play my game and do what I do: get the puck and get it out," said Valentine who signed with the team as a listed player on the eve of last year's rookie game.
"I just have to keep working hard and eating right and getting stronger."
Valentine saw plenty of ice in all situations in Tuesday's 5-4 loss. After tasting his first WHL action in the rookie game a year ago he offered some leadership in his second appearance.
"I actually thought I played better in last year's rookie game," said Valentine. "It was good to be out there and to be a role model for the younger players."
Valentine was playing for the Leduc Oil Kings midget AAA team when he was called up by the Warriors in January. The 6-foot-3 Lousana, Alta. product stepped into the lineup and never looked out of step. Then his season was ended suddenly when he suffered an avulsion fracture to his pelvic bone in a game in Saskatoon.
"I was going back for the puck and I caught an edge and I slammed into the boards weird," said Valentine. "It took eight weeks to heal, so that ended my season."
He said he's feeling 100 per cent and is hoping to be in the lineup every night.
"We have a pretty young team, but I think it should be an exciting year for us," said Valentine. "If we get some of our older guys like (Travis) Brown and (Morgan Rielly) back that would be a bonus. Hopefully we can get into the playoffs and make a good run this year."