His performance at the recent Alberta Cup tournament turned plenty of heads, but goaltender Carson Franks is convinced he might not be a Calgary Hitmen prospect today without the opportunity he got at the next level.
“I’d say playing with the 15-year-olds during the season, just being called up to play with them, helped me make the Alberta Cup team (Central),” Franks said Thursday, after being taken in the sixth round — 127th overall — by the Hitmen in the WHL bantam draft.
Due to an injury to one of their netminders, the minor midget AAA Red Deer Northstar Chiefs summoned Franks from the major bantam Rebels Black halfway through the season. He didn’t disappoint, recording a 2.39 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in four regular-season games.
“That’s really where my game, I guess, stepped up. And when I got to the Alberta Cup (a tournament showcasing the top second-year bantams in the province) I was just doing my job,” said Franks.
The six-foot stopper and his Rebels Black teammates suffered through a 6-21-6, non-playoff season in which he posted a 4.32 GAA and .873 save percentage. But he more than held his own with the Chiefs, going on to allow just two goals in a pair of Sutter Cup (Southern Alberta championship) contests and then helping the team finish second at the provincials, where Northstar lost the final to Red Deer rival IROC.
“Playing at that level really helped my overall game. It helped bring my confidence up, too, after the tough season we had with the bantams,” said Franks.
The 15-year-old communicated with a number of WHL teams as well as the Hitmen prior to the draft, including Tri-City, Seattle, Moose Jaw and Swift Current, and the Calgary talks were not as extensive. Yet, he had a hunch the Hitmen would come calling on draft day.
“I don’t know, Calgary didn’t ask as many question as the other teams did, but I kind of had a feeling about them,” said Franks. “It was just this weird feeling, just a sense that it would be the Hitmen.
“From what I understand it’s a high-class organization, like the Rebels.”