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Essex native kicks-off hockey season on the right skate

- he is second in team scoring and recently scored a hat-trick -

by Sylene Argent

Essex native Matt Puempel kicked-off his 2019-2020 hockey season on a good note with the Grand Rapid Griffins, while under contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

  With 11 games completed so far this season, Puempel is currently sitting as the second-best goal-scorer on his team. He also scored his first AHL hat-trick against the Manitoba Moose during the October 25 game, where the Griffins won 4-1. Puempel had previously noted his most memorable moment at the professional level took place when he scored his first NHL hat trick early on in his career.

  “I think getting off to a good start was important. Coming off a good training camp with Detroit builds confidence,” the left-winger said.

  In regards to getting that hat-trick, a humble Puempel said it was nice to achieve. He gave credit to his teammates for setting up plays for which he ended-up being the beneficiary in scoring the three goals in the game.

  “Sometimes they go in, and sometimes they don’t,” Puempel said of taking shots on net. “There are ups and downs all season. The best thing is to not let the highs get too high and the lows to get too low.”

  He said it is important to grow as a person and as a player, and that includes not expecting everything to come together all at once.

  Puempel, who was drafted into the NHL in 2011 at 24th overall to Ottawa, said the current Grand Rapid roster consists of many younger players, and as a seven-year professional veteran to the sport, he is happy to step into a leadership role as some of his younger teammates adjust to the more travel time and more competitive level of sport.

  As the current hockey season is still in its infancy, Puempel said he is looking forward to the around December/January period, when the season will really begin to pick up.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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