IN THE NEWS
HUNT ALL SMILES AFTER CAREER SEASON
By Carter Baum,
If you've ever seen Brad Hunt, you've likely seen him with a smile on his face.
"That's just who I am. I come to the rink with a smile and I usually leave with a smile," Hunt said. "We can't really be too upset about much, we get to come to the rink everyday and play hockey for a living."
And after this past season with the Oklahoma City Barons, Hunt has all the more reason to smile.
In 66 games with the Barons this season, the defenseman put up career-high numbers, scoring 11 goals and registered 39 assists. His offensive performance was the fifth highest among AHL defenseman, with 50 points, and earned him a spot on the 2013-14 AHL Second All-Star Team. Along the way, he also broke Oklahoma City's record for points by a defenseman, set by Justin Schultz in 2012-13.
The native of Ridge Meadows, B.C. signed his first NHL contract, a two-year deal, with the Edmonton Oilers last July. At only 25 years of age, he was looked upon as a veteran-like figure on a Barons team that dressed 58 different players over the course of 76 regular season, 20 of them players in their rookie season.
"From where we were at the start of the year, to where we were at Christmas, to where we were at the end of the year, it just shows how much the team grew together throughout the year," Hunt said. "It was really nice to see everyone come together and start getting stuff we deserved inside the dressing room."
In his first season with the Oklahoma City, Hunt was quick to embrace the community and the loyal Barons' fans.
"Every time you come out after a game people are always smiling, no matter what the score is, people are always smiling, everyone's been very nice to me," Hunt said. "They're a huge part of our team as well, I mean, without them nothing would be worth what we do out (on the ice)."
Hunt also found a connection very early on in the year through the Barons Buddies program with his Buddy, Mia.
"That was an unbelievable experience, to be able to hang out with someone who's basically not as fortunate as us, but they're still awesome people," Hunt said. "I was really, really happy to be with Mia, my Barons Buddy, and she taught me a lot about life too."
On the ice, Hunt's record year wasn't just limited to time in Oklahoma City. In January, he earned his first NHL call-up, dressing in three games with the Oilers.
"That was something I've wanted to do ever since I was a little kid playing street hockey pretending I was in the NHL," Hunt said with a smile. "That was a dream come true."
Despite his short stint in Edmonton, Hunt's taste of the NHL only motivated him to take his game to the next level.
In Oklahoma City's late playoff push, a 20-7-1-4 record from Jan. 30 onward, he was operating at a point-per-game pace, with 31 points in 31 games. His point total down the stretch was the highest among AHL defensemen for that time.
"I think once you get a piece of the pie, you want the whole thing," Hunt said. "It was an awesome experience, and I just want to keep getting better and better so hopefully I can get another chance to get up there."
After a couple weeks, Hunt plans to set his sights on next season, and as always, do so with a smile.
"I love what I do," he said. "(I've) just got to go and do my work during the summer, and go into camp in really good shape and give 100 percent and do what I can do."
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