Local forward back for second season with Xtreme
When he suited up for the Airdrie Xtreme last season, Airdrie native Gary Haden found himself having to get used to playing in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League (AMBHL).
But now that he’s one of four returning players on this year’s roster, the 14-year-old centre has become one of the Xtreme’s leaders both on and off the ice.
“That first year, I was a little bit nervous, as playing for the Xtreme is something that you work towards as a player all through minor hockey,” Haden said. “Now that I am one of those guys that has been through everything, I’ve been able to help to get the rookie loose and to help them relax a bit in the dressing room before we play.”
Haden, who describes himself as a two-way forward, had 34 points in 33 games for the Xtreme last season, but quickly realized that he needed to work on his strength in order to be successful.
“The kids you are playing against in this league are always getting bigger and stronger, and if you don’t do that, you will be left behind,” he said. “I trained hard every day during the off-season to get ready for this year, as I played in the spring for the Calgary Spartans and then I worked off of the ice at Elite Edge here in Airdrie during the summer.”
The 5’7” and 150 lbs. Haden has gotten off to a quick start this season, as he has five goals and two assists in two games heading into the Xtreme’s next game on Oct. 5, when players travel to Medicine Hat to take on the SEAC Tigers.
Helping out Haden with his success has been his linemates Brett Trenham and Tyler Petrie, who were joined together after the second game of the season.
“I love playing with both of those guys as we have great chemistry,” Haden said. “I played with Tyler back in peewee, and Brent was on the team with me last year, so we knew each other already and that has helped us a lot.”
Heading into this weekend’s two-game road trip, which will conclude on Oct. 6 in Calgary for a game against the Calgary Bisons, the Xtreme have a 1-4 record following a 4-2 loss to the Red Deer White Rebels on Sept. 29 at the Ron Ebbesen Arena in Airdrie.
The Xtreme picked up its first victory of the season in Lethbridge on Sept. 28, when it hammered the Lethbridge Golden Hawks by a score of 11-2.
“Everybody was so happy to finally get that first win and we were just capitalizing on our scoring chances,” said Haden, who had a hat trick in the victory over Lethbridge. “We are a big and fast team, and when we can skate down the ice, nobody can catch us.”
“If we can play a full 60-minute game and just keeping using our speed, I think we will be just fine,” he added.