Like every other hockey player who hit the ice last season, Logan Cunningham’s season was very short because of Covid-19.
This season will be the first full campaign for Cunningham and he thinks he has everything figured out for the most part.
The 17-year-old is back with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs for his second go-round and he’s already hard at work. The Chiefs played their first two pre-season games of the new season in Everett, Washington: a 2-0 loss to the Everett Silvertips on Sept. 10 followed by a 4-3 shootout win over the Seattle Thunderbirds.
As he enters season no. 2 with the Chiefs, Cunningham said he feels he can have more of an impact this time around.
“I think I’m in good control of my play now,” he said. “Some of the older guys have moved on so I’ll probably get some more ice time this season.”
Cunningham’s first campaign saw him play in 14 of the team’s shortened 24-game season this past spring and while he didn’t register a point, he said he found out what he needed to do in order to be ready for this season.
“I put on some muscle and worked on my quickness,” he said. “You have to be able to transition fast in this league so that was one of my goals.”
He also worked on sprint training with Devin Madsen at the Racquet Club to improve his bursts, he added.
Cunningham turns 18 in March and that means this is a potential National Hockey League draft year for him.
He said it’s not something he’s focusing on for this season but is in the back of his mind.
“I didn’t come into this season pre-ranked (by the Central Scouting Bureau) so that’s not really a big thing for me right now,” he said. “I want to have a breakout season and get some eyes on me. I didn’t make much of an impact last year so I want to do the things that will get people watching me and just work on the process.”
Like last season, there are Covid-19 policies in effect for everyone on the team. Everyone had to be fully vaccinated before taking the ice for the start of training camp and cross-border travel has been affected as well. The team will be playing games against those squads in the B.C. Division but not until November — the league cancelled the scheduled games for October for all teams in the Western Conference due to the ongoing border restrictions on non-essential bus travel between Canada and the U.S. That means teams in the U.S. Division will play exclusively against each other for the month of October.
The Chiefs are operating under Covid-19 rules set out by the state of Washington and Cunningham admitted he doesn’t really understand what they all mean.
“All I know is that if there’s a case, we won’t have to do a test if we’re vaccinated but we’re considered a close contact if we didn’t have a mask on,” he said. “There’s rules about isolation and it’s different depending on what happens.”