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NEW YEAR, NEW C.J. STRETCH

By Jennifer Cochran , on 09/23/2013

As the Oklahoma City Barons open training camp, there are returners and new faces competing for the spots on the roster. One of these players is center C.J. Stretch, who enters Barons camp after attending the Edmonton Oilers training camp earlier. Stretch enters the 2013-14 season with a chance to step up as a leader for the Barons.

Stretch, a 5-11 center from Irvine, Calif., is ready to take on that role for the Barons. And, as he puts, as a quiet guy, the best way to lead is by example.

“I’m mostly quiet, but when I do talk I feel that guys do listen to me, I’d like to say I lead by example,” he said when asked about his leadership qualities.

Stretch’s participation in the Oilers preseason camp revealed some skills he could work on improving, and he’s committed to making that happen this year.

“Just seeing their speed, stick handling and their shots, I just look at stuff like that and try to bring it to my game,” he said. Stretch scored eight points in the regular season and nine during postseason play last year, but he knows that he needs to get better.

“Everyone tells me I have the hands and the vision of the shot, but just need that quickness to be faster.” Stretch also has a goal of being a champion this year – an accomplishment both he and his teammates can share. He’s also back in Oklahoma City, a place he referred to as home, following the opening day of training camp.

“Being back in OKC is just awesome,” he added. “The arena looks nice and seeing all the guys, the trainers and the coaches is just awesome."

With the season quickly approaching, Stretch is hopeful his teammates follow his lead and focus on the little things for the upcoming year.

“It doesn’t matter if you go out and score 20 or 30 goals, as long as you work hard, that is what counts, the little things are what always count, just focus on the little things.”

But with all that hard work comes a little fun, and Stretch often reflects on a piece of advice given to him by his father when he was growing up.

“If you’re not having fun, you should not be playing hockey,” he said. “You never know when your last day of playing hockey will be.”

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