Another day, another reassignment for a player with the Stockton Thunder. Yesterday we saw the switcheroo of Dan Ringwald for Teigan Zahn, with the former heading to play with the Barons. Today we get an AHL-contracted, but ECHL loaned, return of centerman Eric Hunter. Hunter, like the other recent recalls offensively in Cornet and Rajala, is having a really good ECHL season. So much so, that it’s not entirely too far of a stretch that in a non-lockout season, this guy is playing in Oklahoma City. A semi-late placement in Stockton following camp, Hunter can do some nice things.
In the absence of Rajala and Cornet, Gabriel Levesque and Yannick Riendeau have taken over the wing positions to Hunter’s centering line. They haven’t missed a beat. In their first game as a threesome they scored a combined seven points in that game.
If you’re curious about the injury situations for the Barons, and why this call-up was necessary, here’s the breakdown.
Josh Green – out one more series with rib injury
Ryan Martindale – out with knee injury
Tanner House – concussion
Tyler Pitlick – concussion
Antti Tyrvainen – recovering from arm surgery
That’s two useful centermen (House and Martindale), and one sometimes centerman (Green) out with injury. You get a smidge banged up on the road, lose a player, and suddenly you’re in need of a replacement. Hence comes the calling of Eric Hunter.
Hunter’s points this season in Stockton are 4-8-12 in 16 games. And always remember, this guy is in his second year as a pro. An older pro, but one that has some really good play making skills. Might we see the return of a Cornet-Hunter-Rajala line? Perhaps.
When Cornet and Rajala were upped to Oklahoma City, Eric Hunter had this to say:
“This is just part of the game. In Lake Erie there was a revolving door of guys coming in and out, and that’s the nature of pro hockey, ” Hunter said. “It’s no secret; two leading scorers is a big loss for us. But the two guys who are coming in to join the line are going to be great. We’re rolling right now, and confidence is high.”
The Official Release via OKC Barons:
Hunter, 26, signed an AHL contract with the Barons on November 6, but has been playing with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. With Stockton, Hunter has 12 points (4-8-12) in 16 games played and has a team best +/- rating of +11. Last season, the 6-1, 194-pounder from Winnipeg, Manitoba played in 75 games with the Lake Erie Monsters and scored 16 points (6-10-16).
Prior to turning pro, Hunter played four seasons at the University of Alberta. In 105 games with the Golden Bears, he scored 98 points (40-58-98). Prior to attending the University of Alberta, he played five seasons with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. He scored 233 points (111-122-233) in 323 games played with the Cougars. Hunter’s 111 goals and 233 points are Cougars’ franchise records in those categories.
He has the unique distinction of being drafted twice. He was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 8th round (229th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and in the 6th round (174th overall) by the New York Rangers in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Hunter will join the Barons in Houston in advance of their set of games this Thursday and Friday against the Aeros.