Cam Hausinger can’t help but smile when he thinks about the totality of it all.
After all, 302 WHL games over five seasons is a lot, even if they have seemingly flown by for the 21-year-old.
Even more remarkably, over the past three seasons, Hausinger had played 183 games and has only missed three. An incredible feat of the human body.
“I’ve talked to a couple of people about it. It’s remarkable. Being able to stay healthy, thank god. Being able to play this many games against this competition, I’m grateful for it,” said Hausinger, who has played all 46 games this season for the Red Deer Rebels and has nine goals and 29 points.
“Feels like I played my first game after that and every night I still get the jitters. The nervousness of going out and playing a full game and trying to put something on the board, trying to put a win together. Still the same now, since my first game ever. Still get the same nerve-wracking feeling.”
Impressive even on another level considering the rugged style that Hausinger plays, mucking it up in the corners, playing very physical and at times, trying to get under the opponents’ skin.
In particular, it’s that last part that has been the calling card for the Anchorage, Alaska native, since day one in the WHL. Not only embraced, but relished.
He loves playing the villain– pissing off opponents, getting them off their game to open up a window for his teammates to cash in.
“That’s how I get engaged in games. As much as it sounds weird, I love when people hate me,” said Hausinger, who has 68 goals, 152 assists and 305 penalty minutes over his five-season WHL career.
“You can hold a completely different personality off the ice. That’s what I hold, the trash-talking, hitting, kinda dirty, getting under people’s skin. I love it when people get pissed off and take runs at me. It’s the best.”
Hausinger, who has played with the Rebels, Kootenay ICE and Saskatoon Blades over his career, grew up with three hockey-playing brothers and believes that’s where he learned his trash talk game. There were some intense battles and inevitably, some harsh words. He’s even used that from time to time in the WHL.
His older brother Kenny, a forward, is in his final season at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Begrudgingly, Hausinger admits Kenny is probably the most skilled, but he can’t really mix it up in the NCAA, so that gives Cam a bit of an edge in the rivalry.
“That’s who I look up to. My oldest brother is a forward, plays just like me, more skilled, Kinda shys away from some of the grittiness,” he said.
Sibling rivalries aside, Hausinger says now as all the brothers are in their 20s, it’s all about support and just keeping each other updated on the successes and failures.
“Now that we’re older, we just want to see each other succeed. Back then, I wanted to be the best. I wanted to be better than my brothers. Now, I don’t care. Now I just want all of us to be successful, school, hockey or whatever, just be a good brother,” Hausinger said.
That maturity is a world away from the 15-year-old that was drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft by the Saskatoon Blades. Back then, Hausinger was ready to prove he was the best of his brothers, playing in the best junior development league in the world.
“When I was 16 and they were still playing juniors, we would go at it, we would chirp each other lots about the leagues we play in, I always told them I play in the best league you can play in. We would battle about that when I was younger,” he said.
Five years later, he’s just taking it day-by-day, as the final games of his WHL career tick away, as fast as the tactful chirps fly from his lips.
“They all blend together. The games, they fly by. Three hundred games in the league, I still feel like I’m playing my second season here. Crazy to think it’s my fifth year and I’m just about done,” he said.
“It’s scary. But also exciting for the next chapter. I’m excited for it.”
The Rebels will host the Winnipeg Ice on Friday night at the Centrium.