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Candice Ward/Photo

Cael Zimmerman isn’t your average 16-year-old.

The young forward has taken on numerous responsibilities in his first WHL season that not many others in the league do.

From playing one of the tougher positions at centre, to seeing time on special teams, Zimmerman has earned his larger role.

“I’ve been trying to get my game to another level,” Zimmerman said. “I’ll stay out after practice to work on more things and it’s been paying off.”

“I know I can get better and I want to get better.”

The Englefeld, Sask., native has been a regular in the Hitmen lineup, appearing in 40 of the club’s 42 games this season.

So far on the year, Zimmerman has racked up 10 points (four goals, six assists) and his play has earned him recent powerplay minutes, with three points coming on the man-advantage.

Head coach Dallas Ferguson has been impressed with Zimmerman’s strong work ethic, and his drive to improve each time he hits the ice.

“I’m a big fan of Cael,” Ferguson said. “The more you give him, the more he responds.”

“Everything he’s been given he’s earned. He doesn’t get too high or too low on himself and he always responds to what we throw at him.”

The first-year Hitmen bench boss took notice of Zimmerman’s work ethic right away.

“When you work hard and you’re a good person, good things will happen to you,” Ferguson said. “We’re happy where he’s going right now.”

“He’s such a smart hockey player and has good habits in his game. The little things he does are what feeds to the bigger parts of his game which you like to see in your players.”

Ever since he was a little kid, his coaches have stressed the importance of playing a complete game and that has stuck with Zimmerman.

He wants to become a responsible two-way forward that can provide goals when needed, but also prevent pucks from ending up in the Hitmen net and he has shown consistency in the defensive end each game.

“It’s important to be a defensive-minded forward,” Zimmerman said. “Yeah, it’s a great feeling scoring goals, but when you don’t get scored on, that’s one more goal you don’t have to score.”

“I pride myself in being able to take care of play in my own end.”

 

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