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Calgary Hitmen ready for Friday's home opener against Medicine Hat

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When the Calgary Hitmen take to the ice on Friday night against the Medicine Hat Tigers, forward Carson Wetsch hopes to bring a lot more to the table.

Wetsch spent early August at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in the Czech Republic, where Canada came home with the gold medal.

Wetsch says he learned a lot from that experience.

"There's a lot of great players on that team," said the 17-year-old.

"Just taking information from them and I mean, there's coaches from different leagues, so you've got a different perspective on things and I can just go in and learn as much as I can and I think it propelled me to be a better player."

SUMMER CUT SHORT

Last season, as a rookie, Wetsch put up 10 goals and 11 assists in 45 games.

Even though he had his summer cut short, Wetsch says playing in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup was well worth it.

"It's unbelievable. I mean, putting on a Canadian jersey, you get to represent your country and all the people that live in it. I mean, I did the best thing there was to do -- we got to bring the gold back."

BRING ON THE TIGERS

Not much separated the Hitmen and Tigers last season.

The Hitmen had 70 points, while the Tigers finished with 69.

But this is a new year and forward London Hoilett says it would be nice to get off to a good start.

"I just think it's going to be hard-hitting, kind of fast-paced, maybe not as structured yet because it's the start of the season and teams are still getting things situated," said the 18-year-old forward.

"I think it will just be back to the basics -- hard, fast hockey -- and I'm excited to get into it because that's kind of my game."

SHORTHANDED ROSTERS

This is the time of year that all teams are shorthanded because players are attending NHL training camps.

The Hitmen are without Oliver Tulk and Tyson Galloway, at Calgary Flames rookie camp.

Other players at rookie camps include Sean Tschigerl in Los Angeles and Grayden Siepmann in Boston.

Head coach Steve Hamilton says there's no use worrying about what you can't control.

"You just really can't plan for that," he said.

"You've got to plan with the guys that are here and the best available guys that are actually in the locker room and work with them.

"If we get those guys back prior to Friday, that's a bonus. If not, I'm comfortable with the group we have right now and we'll make it work."

Puck drop for Friday night's game is 7 p.m. at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The same two teams will face each other in Medicine Hat on Saturday night.

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