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Hanes adapting to Cougar life
By Alistair McInnis
Ryan Hanes might never have expected to suit up for the Prince George Cougars, a fierce rival of his beloved Kamloops Blazers.
But, there he was on a Saturday evening at Interior Savings Centre, skating for the visiting Cougars, playing against his former team.
“It was definitely weird being on the other side, but, overall, I had a lot of fun and it was good,” said Hanes, a Brocklehurst secondary graduate.
Hanes generated cheers from Blazer fans in the rink when he scored the Cougars’ fourth goal in a 5-4 shootout defeat on Saturday, Nov. 17.
He might reside in the Gateway to the North — but he’s a River City guy at heart.
“It was pretty loud actually,” Hanes said with a laugh. “I was surprised how loud it got.”
The goal was Hanes’ first since joining the Cats last week.
After reaching his new home, Hanes had one practice before making his Cougars’ debut on Friday, Nov. 16, at CN Centre, where the visiting Saskatoon Blades earned a 4-0 victory.
The Cougars announced the acquisition of Hanes on Nov. 14. He joined the team from the B.C. Hockey League’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.
“Dean [Clark, Cougars’ head coach] called me to come up and play and I came here and it’s been really good so far.”
As former head coach and general manager of the Blazers, Clark is familiar with Hanes.
While working for the Blazers, he selected Hanes in the fifth round of the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft.
Shortly after last week’s move, Clark was asked what Hanes brings to the Cougars.
He called him a gritty, team player.
“He’ll do whatever the team needs and that’s the kind of player he is. He’s a very, very unselfish guy who had a long career in the Western Hockey League and just one of those guys who will go through the wall and we need that.”
A quick glance at the stats will show Hanes isn’t a scorer.
He has 41 points, 17 of them goals, in 183 regular-season WHL games.
But, with 318 penalty minutes, he won’t shy away from other aspects of the game.
“Just hard-working, go to the corners, get in front of the net and stick up for my teammates,” Hanes said when asked to describe his play.
“Just whatever it takes, hopefully put a few pucks in the net.”
Although he was a fan favourite and homegrown product, Hanes fell short of landing one of three 1992-born overage positions with the Blazers.
In August, they opted to place him on 48-hour waivers. He eventually ended up with the Capitals.
Hanes, listed at 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, recorded 12 goals and 25 points in 20 games with Cowichan Valley.
The path to Prince George cleared when Cougars’ captain Brock Hirsche was placed on the 30-day list this month with an upper body injury.
Defencemen Dan Gibb and Dallas Ehrhardt are the other 20-year-olds on the Cats’ roster.
Hanes is still adjusting to playing in the league’s most-remote outpost. But, he’s thankful the Cougars are giving him another opportunity in the Dub.
“I think they got a young group, but they’re actually really tight in the dressing room,” he said. “It’s a good group here that I’ve noticed in the last couple of days.”
Hanes might also have one of the best moustaches in the league and it’s generating extra attention with the current Movember campaign underway.
But, unlike other people who are typically clean shaven, Hanes is quick to point out his moustache isn’t a one-month fashion statement.
“It’s year round.”