© Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
Michael Lundrigan is shown during a scrimmage game at the Dennis GM Western Kings training camp Sunday at the Kinsmen Arena II.
CORNER BROOK Michael Lundrigan knows his chances of playing in the NHL like his Uncle Joe Lundrigan did would be slim at best so he‚Äôs in touch with reality.
However, he still loves playing the game and wants to make his last year of major midget hockey eligibility a season to remember.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think I‚Äôm going to go anywhere else, so I‚Äądecided to make it my best year and try my hardest,‚ÄĚ Lundrigan said Sunday after participating in the Kings training camp at the Kinsmen Arena II.
Lundrigan is a hard-hitting forward who saw limited duty on the fourth line last season.
It appears he wasn‚Äôt prepared to just play a physical presence. He felt he could contribute more.
He then decided to take matters into his own hands in the off-season as he amped up his training regime and dropped a whopping 30 pounds .
The Kings, who are now under new sponsorship and will now be known the Dennis GM Kings, have coach Angus Head back at the helm again this season.
Coach Head was happy to see Lundrigan, son of Kevin and Christine Lundrigan, come to camp ready to seize a key role with the team. According to Head, Lundrigan failed to crack the roster in his first attempt three years ago and last year he made the team but was limited to a physical role on the fourth line most of the season.
Coach Head has big plans for a guy who likes to punish the opposition, but seemed to be a step behind the play last year against some of the more fleet-of-foot players around the provincial league.
‚ÄúI see him stepping up to the top two lines because he‚Äôs a really good hockey player and a good playmaker,‚ÄĚ coach Head said.
A guy who plays with heart and has a good rapport with his teammates is something coach Head believes he has with Lundrigan. As a player with a few years under his belt, even at the tender age of 17 years of age, his coach expects him to be a go-to guy.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs got to be a leader this year and I have no doubt he can give it,‚ÄĚ he said.
Lundrigan said he feels good going into the season and credits his improved conditioning to punching long hours of training and staying away from eating junk food.
It‚Äôs a change of lifestyle that has him excited about his final season at the major midget level. A year of hockey that he really believes will be his last at the competitive level because he realizes life goes on after playing minor hockey.
He was among 20-odd players, from all over western Newfoundland, looking to earn a spot with the team. He was really pleased with the crashing and banging that was happening on the ice as the camp prospects put it all on the line during an intrasquad game Sunday morning.
‚ÄúWe got a lot of big guys and a lot of small guys who can skate and score so I‚Äąthink we‚Äôre going to have a good shot at it this year,‚ÄĚ he said.
Opposing players will probably be keeping their heads up this year with Lundrigan lurking in the weeds. The big winger should get to his intended target a step or two earlier this season.