He’s been loving life in the Stampede City.
Ever since Riley Stotts was acquired from the Swift Current Broncos via trade last season, there’s no question that the centreman has enjoyed every second of being a part of the Hitmen organization.
That feeling hasn’t changed one bit personally and as a whole for a club that has said all year how close everyone is.
“With the group we have, every day is special to be together,” he said. “Everyone does it for the guy next to them and not individually. It’s huge to have a group like this and will be something that we can use to our advantage.
“These bonds will last a lifetime.”
There’s no question that Stotts has made quite the impact with the Hitmen since arriving, a big reason why he was selected in the third round of the 2018 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Fast-forward to the present, and the 19-year-old has taken more strides with career highs across the board this season. In 104 career games with the Hitmen, Stotts has been close to a point-a-game player with 96 points (36G, 60A) and sits just three goals short for 50 in his career.
After 178 games played and 47 markers to his credit, he still recalls crystal clear his first game on Sept. 23, 2016 against Saskatoon and his first goal just four tilts later on Oct. 4 against Portland.
“Those moments will always hold a special spot for me,” he said. “I remember having my family there watching my first game and I just took it all in because it’s something you only experience once. Sharing that moment with them was special and that first game helped pave the way to where I am today.
“For my first goal, I remember I called my brother before the game and said ‘you know what, maybe I will score today.’ I went in front of the net and tipped a shot in and just remember that feeling of excitement that overcame me. He texted me after the game to congratulate me and it just shows how funny things work out.”
Call your shots as they say. And, perhaps a method he will use again when he is just one away from the 50-mark.
“You never know,” he laughed. “You get those feelings some games that you know it’ll happen so maybe I’ll have to make another call to him.”
With the regular season down to just five games, Stotts and the Hitmen are still battling to punch their ticket into the post-season.
The job isn’t quite done yet, but it is incredible to look back and see how far the club has come from a year ago and from the tough start they had to the season.
“We’ve grown so much together and to see the progress we’ve made is huge and rewarding,” Stotts said. “We’ve worked hard to get to this point and hopefully we can cap it off with clinching a playoff spot.
“It just shows how resilient and tough we are that no matter how hard we get knocked down, we come right back up and hit harder. We believed in ourselves when others doubted us and showed what we are made of.”