A switch in sticks has turned on Adam Kambeitz’s switch.
The Red Deer Rebels second-year forward recently took the advice of head coach Jesse Wallin and tried out a new piece of lumber. So far, so good.
“I was having trouble handling the puck with the stick I was using and (Wallin) suggested that I try another stick with a different lie and curve,” Kambeitz recalled prior to Tuesday’s practice session at the Centrium.
“I gave it a shot and I guess it starting working for me. I don’t know if it’s me playing with more confidence or just the stick, but it seems to be helping out.”
Kambeitz scored two goals and added an assist in Friday’s 4-3 Western Hockey League win over the Hurricanes at Lethbridge and collected a single helper the following night in an impressive 5-1 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades.
The weekend output doubled his points production for the season.
The 17-year-old native of Coaldale now has four goals and eight points and will attempt to keep his offensive production flowing when the Rebels host the Medicine Hat Tigers tonight at 7 p.m. at the Centrium.
Wallin likes what he’s seen from Kambeitz in recent outings.
“‘Kamby’ really is just starting to come into his own,” said the Rebels bench boss.
“I thought he had a slow start to the season. He was really struggling with the puck and then he changed sticks a couple of weeks ago and now I don’t know if it’s more of a physical thing or a mental thing.
“The lie on his (original) stick seemed to really affect him. He’s a guy who skates kind of bent over and hunched down and he seems to be more confident with the puck now. He’s handling it better and because of that his overall confidence is starting to soar. He’s moving his feet, he’s more assertive on the ice and with the puck. I think he’s just feeling good about himself.”
One aspect of Kambeitz’s game has never changed, Wallin insisted.
“His work ethic is excellent. He’s always been a hard-working kid, but I think that now with his added confidence he’s taken it to another level,” said Wallin.
“He’s starting to produce offensively but his role on our team also includes being a great penalty killer and being great defensively. He’s really competing hard in those areas right now. He’s blocking shots, he’s done a good job on the (penalty kill) and has been real tenacious, and now he’s being rewarded for that.”
Kambeitz was somewhat of a dark horse candidate to make the team last year after being selected in the seventh round of the 2007 WHL bantam draft and then playing a season of midget 15-year-old hockey.
“But he came in and showed that work ethic that he has and played himself into a spot,” said Wallin. “You go through training camp to sort those things out and at the end of it all he deserved to be here.”
Kambeitz turned in a respectable rookie campaign and returned for his sophomore season intent on taking the next step.
“He really came on in the second half of last season and became a real dependable player for us down the stretch,” said Wallin. “This year he was focused a little too much on things that were out of his control. It’s his draft year and that’s a big thing for young guys. They get that in their heads and get away from focusing on just being good players. But right now he’s doing that. He has put those other issues aside and is focused on working and competing hard each night.”
“Coming into my second year I had higher expectations for myself,” said Kambeitz. “I wanted to contribute more to the team and I didn’t really have the start I expected to have. But just through working hard in practices and off the ice and trying to do things right in games, eventually my game started to come along.
“I was waiting to break out at the start of the year and I think it started to happen last weekend. I just have to make sure I continue to do things right and keep pushing to get better.”
• The Rebels will be minus the services tonight of winger John Persson, who suffered a concussion on Friday. Meanwhile, centre Landon Ferraro remains in Vancouver, where he’s seeing a specialist about his recurring knee injury.